Peguis First Nation is set to become the first Indigenous group in Manitoba to take control of child welfare under federal legislation that came into effect three years ago.
The community north of Winnipeg is to be joined Tuesday by Patty Hajdu, the federal Indigenous services minister, and Rochelle Squires, the provincial families minister, in the signing of a co-ordination agreement between the three governments.
“Our nation is exercising its inherent rights and ensuring that our Indigenous legal traditions and teachings have formed the basis for our law,” Chief Glenn Hudson said in a release.
The First Nation is one of just over two dozen communities to have notified Indigenous Services Canada that it intends to handle its own child and family services, as outlined in the federal Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis Children, Youth and Families.
“Canada and Manitoba join Peguis today in signing this historic child and family services co-ordination agreement that rightly puts them in the driver’s seat and makes sure they have the tools and resources they need,” said Hajdu.
Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan was the first group in Canada to take over child welfare in July 2021.
Peguis had its own laws come into effect one year ago, after the community notified Ottawa the previous year. But the province did not sign on at the time.
This would be the first time Manitoba has signed such an agreement after it previously expressed concerns over the legislation.
“The enactment of Indigenous laws is vital to shared priorities of ensuring current and future generations of children remain and reunite with their families and loved ones. I commend the courage and strength of Peguis First Nation as they lead us on this path,” said Squires.
The First Nation said its laws will allow members from across the country to receive services.
The legislation has a focus on prevention so families can receive supports to remain together.