Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Child Welfare Initiative
Link to Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Link to Manitoba Metis Federation Link to Manitoba Keewatinow Okimakinak Link to Province of Manitoba

Note: This document was prepared to provide an orientation to Phase 1 of the AJI-CWI, as well as the overall AJI-CWI. Excerpts of this document appear on other pages of this web site.

The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry was commissioned in 1988 to examine the relationship between the Aboriginal peoples of Manitoba and the justice system. The report was tabled in 1991 and included an analysis and observations regarding the historical treatment of Aboriginal people by the social service system and, in particular, the child welfare system of the province. The inquiry stated that the Aboriginal peoples of Manitoba were not well-served by the existing system and made several recommendations regarding the child welfare system:

  • Establish the office of Child Protector, as recommended by Judge Kimelman, to protect the interests of children, to investigate any complaint into the practices of any child welfare agency and to be responsible to the Legislature.
  • Provide Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal child and family services agencies with sufficient resources to enable them to provide a full range of direct and preventive services mandated by The Child and Family Services Act.
  • That federal and provincial governments provide resources to Aboriginal agencies to develop policies, standards, protocols and procedures, and to develop computer systems that will permit them to communicate effectively, track cases and share information.
  • That Principle 11 of The Child and Family Services Act be amended to read: "Aboriginal people are entitled to the provision of child and family services in a manner which respects their unique status, and their cultural and linguistic heritage."
  • Establish a mandated province-wide Metis agency.
  • Expand the authority of existing Indian agencies to enable them to offer services to band members living off-reserve.
  • Establish an Aboriginal child and family services agency in the city of Winnipeg to handle all Aboriginal cases.

In 1999, the Government of Manitoba announced a commitment to address the AJI’s recommendations. Additionally, the government established the Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission to advise the government on methods of implementing recommendations of the Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (1991).

The Commission prioritized issues of family and child welfare and recommended that:

"The Government of Manitoba seek to enter into agreement with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Metis Federation to develop a plan thdat would result in First Nations and Metis communities developing and delivering Aboriginal child welfare services.

The Commission makes this recommendation now because we understand that both the Government and Aboriginal representatives are willing to take such action and because of the importance of children and families.

The Framework agreement between the Federal Government and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs highlights child welfare, as does the tripartite agreement between the Manitoba Government, the Federal Government, and the Manitoba Metis Federation. Since the Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples has also recognized the importance of the area by making a range of recommendations in its final report in 1995."

Through negotiations with First Nations and Metis representatives, the Province of Manitoba signed three separate three-year agreements (Memoranda of Understanding) with the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) (February 22, 2000) representing the Metis; the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) (April 27, 2000) representing southern First Nations; and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) (July 20, 2000) representing northern First Nations. All four parties subsequently signed the Child and Family Services Protocol. The overall purpose of these agreements was to establish a joint initiative under a common process to expand off-reserve jurisdiction for First Nations, establish a province-wide Metis mandate and restructure the existing child care system through legislative and other changes.


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