The Union of Ontario Indians developed an Anishinabek Nation (AN) Child Well-Being Working Group (CWBWG) that has been working on developing an Anishinaabek Nation Child Well-Being Law (ANCWBL) since 2007. The impetus for the development of this new child well-being law came about because of the recognition that the current child welfare laws, with its focus on the protection of children, still resulted in the removal of First Nations children from their families and communities. The ANCWBL would give First Nations communities the right to exercise their inherent jurisdiction over the well-being of their children regardless of residency. Although the ANCWBL will have a protection component to it, there will be a greater focus on prevention activities that would lessen the need for the protection from child welfare authorities. Included in the ANCWBL is a greater emphasis on the inclusion of traditional forms of helping, including Anishinaabemowin (Anishinaabe language) and Anishinaabe teachings, therefore helping community members to reconnect to their wellness journeys.
While the ANCWBL would allow First Nations communities greater control over the health and well-being of children and families, several challenges to the implementation of the ANCWBL have been identified. One major challenge is ensuring provision of services to First Nations families in urban centres at risk of becoming involved with the provincial child welfare system.This is not always possible because of under-funding and the inequity issues that exists in Ontario and Canada. Another area of common concern is the issue of mixed marriages and ensuring that the familiy’s cultural identity is respected during this process. It is crucial that children born into mixed marriages are not denied access to culturally based services simply because one parent is not Anishinaabe. Maintaining the connection of First Nations children to their Indigenous identity and community is a priority for the ANCWBL. The implementation of the ANCWBL is one way to ensure that children are not lost to the child welfare system.
- How do you suppose the introduction of the Anishinawbek Nation Child Well-Being Law will improve the health of First Nations children and families who are at risk of intervention from child welfare authorities?
- What is significant about the implementation of the Anishinawbek Nation Child Well-Being Law?
- Take some time to read this news article. What lessons can you take from this initiative that could be applied to other health and social systems?
‘Koganaazawin’ new name for Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being system
Expanding your Knowledge
The following links provides details on the draft Anishinabek Nation Child Well-being Law effective April 1, 2018:
Anishinabek Nation Child Well-being Law (Draft)