An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families

Sponsor

Seamus O'Regan  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment affirms the rights and jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples in relation to child and family services and sets out principles applicable, on a national level, to the provision of child and family services in relation to Indigenous children, such as the best interests of the child, cultural continuity and substantive equality.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

April 11, 2019 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 6:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by acknowledging that we are meeting on the traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin people.

Today has been a powerful and emotional day for indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians alike. With the release of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, we took another step in identifying the unacceptable gaps that exist between first nations, Inuit and Métis people and the rest of Canada.

Our government is working to end the ongoing national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. The commissioners of the national inquiry did important work, and now it is up to us as the federal government and up to us individually as Canadians to develop a national action plan and to implement those recommendations in partnership with first nations, Inuit and Métis people.

The bill before us addresses an important part of the work we need to do to advance reconciliation, and that is to address gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, thereby improving the quality of life for indigenous peoples right across the country.

Protecting and promoting the well-being of indigenous children and families should be the top priority of the federal government and all governments across the country. That has obviously not always been the case. Members of the House are aware of the pain and suffering that continue to be inflicted on indigenous children and families in this country.

Separating indigenous children from their families is not just something that happened in the past. This is something that occurs every day, to this very day. In fact, it is a worsening problem. More indigenous children are in care now than at the height of the operation of residential schools.

In terms of hard numbers, more than 52% of children in foster care in Canada are indigenous, yet they represent less than 8% of the population. Studies show that the average indigenous child in foster care may live with anywhere between three and 13 different families before turning 19 years old. This is unacceptable and it has to stop.

I think we can all agree that the current system needs to change. As parliamentarians, we must act. We believe in a system where indigenous peoples are in charge of their own child and family services, something we recognize should have been the case all along. Indigenous families are currently bound by rules and systems that are not their own and do not reflect their cultures, their identities, their traditions, their communities or their ways. No wonder they have not worked. This bill sets out to change that.

First and foremost, Bill C-92 sets out principles that would apply across the country to guide the provision of child and family services involving indigenous children and families. These principles are informed by extensive engagement with indigenous people all over the country. The principles in the bill, which are the best interests of the child, substantive equality and cultural continuity, are aligned with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

If no agreement is reached within 12 months, but reasonable efforts were made to do so, the indigenous law would also have force of law as federal law. In other words, should a government not act in good faith after 12 months of negotiations of a coordination agreement, indigenous child and family services law would have precedence as a federal law. To be clear, as a federal statute, the indigenous law would stand on its own; it would not be subject to the whims of a federal or provincial government. It would be equal to, not lesser than.

To promote a smooth transition and implementation of Bill C-92, Canada will explore the creation of distinctions-based transition governance structures. The co-developed governance structures would identify tools and processes to increase the capacity of communities as they assume responsibility of child and family services. During this phase, we would continue our work with first nations, Inuit and Métis partners, as well as with the provinces and territories, to set out the details about how to support communities to exercise their jurisdiction. The bill also provides a clear affirmation of the inherent right of first nations, Inuit and Métis to exercise their own jurisdiction in relation to child and family services.

Pursuant to Bill C-92, if an indigenous group or community wishes to exercise its authority in relation to child and family services and have its own laws take precedence over federal, provincial or territorial laws, the Minister of Indigenous Services and the provincial or territorial government shall enter into trilateral discussions to develop a coordination agreement.

If a coordination agreement is reached within 12 months following the request, the laws of the indigenous group or community would have force of law as federal law and would prevail over federal, provincial and territorial child and family services laws.

Gone are the days of top-down colonial solutions. It is contrary to the spirit of reconciliation, goes against the principle of codevelopment that has guided this proposed legislation, and they just do not work.

This legislation is an accumulation of intensive engagement, including nearly 2,000 participants across 65 sessions, from elders, youth, women, grandmothers, aunties and from those with lived experience in a broken child and family services system. We heard what needed to be included in the bill to make successful the exercise of jurisdiction that is already an inherent right of first nations, Inuit and Métis people.

What we heard included values and cultural practices, lived experience and academic research, as well as recommendations of a reference group that was comprised of representatives from national indigenous organizations.

First nations, Inuit and Métis people have asked time and again for codeveloped legislation, from resolutions passed by the Assembly of First Nations in May and December 2018, to hearing that Inuit leadership wanted a distinctions-based approach, and that the Métis wanted jurisdiction over child and family services to be recognized through legislation.

Since the emergency meeting convened by my predecessor in January 2018, there have been extensive meetings and consultations across the country in an effort to get this right.

Even in weeks preceding the introduction of this legislation, we were incorporating the suggestions of indigenous groups, provincial and territorial partners. Those suggestions made the bill that I was fortunate enough to inherit much stronger.

We did not stop there. There are no closed doors to our indigenous partners or to the provinces and the territories. This legislation and the children it aims to protect are only served if we collaborate and ensure their best interests.

Many came forward and offered suggestions on how to improve the bill, and I am pleased to support the changes made by the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs. These amendments reflect what was heard from a number of witnesses, especially around funding, around balancing physical and cultural security in the best interest of an indigenous child and around ensuring implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples as a purpose of the bill.

With regard to funding, we cannot presume that the funding models that have supported the current broken system will be what indigenous groups want to use while exercising their jurisdiction. Those models and levels should be discussed and designed through the coordination agreement process to ensure they reflect the unique needs of each community and are not a one-size-fits-all approach.

We pledge to work with partners to identify long-term needs and funding gaps. The amendment supported at committee guarantees that funding will be sustainable, needs-based and consistent with the principle of substantive equality, so that long-term, positive results for indigenous children, families and communities are secured.

Both the House committee and the aboriginal peoples committee in the other place heard that there needed to be a better balance between the physical well-being of a child and the preservation of cultural identity, language and connection to the community. We completely agree, and we fully support the amendment that will see primary consideration given to a child's physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being, as well as to the importance of that child having an ongoing relationship with his or her family, indigenous group or community.

In committee, members of the official opposition and the NDP also presented important amendments to strengthen the bill. I thank them for their efforts. Bill C-92 establishes a legislative framework and will ensure that solid guiding principles are in place to protect the needs of indigenous children and families for generations to come.

Now is the time to follow through on our promises to indigenous children, families and communities. Our promise is that the same old broken system that needlessly separates so many children from their families, that removes them from their culture, that cuts them off from their land and their language, not be allowed to continue and that we affirm and recognize that indigenous families know what is best for indigenous children.

Ours is a historic opportunity to make a real, meaningful change to address centuries of harm and improve the lives of first nations, Inuit and Métis people. I hope everyone will join me in supporting this bill.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 6:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure tonight to speak to Bill C-92.

Before I get into it, I would like to say a few comments about this morning when I attended, along with our shadow minister, the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report release.

I think we all agree in the House that it is a national tragedy. I was reminded of that this morning when I struck up a conversation with the woman seated next to me. I did not know her, but when we sat down, I noticed that she was holding a 5” x 7” picture of a young girl. I was inquisitive and asked her if she would share her story with me.

The woman was an auntie from Six Nations, and she immediately filled me in on the story. The picture she was holding was of 14-year-old Patricia “Trish” Carpenter from Alderville First Nation. It was 27 years ago, in 1992, when Ms. Carpenter's body was found at a construction site by Yonge Street in Toronto face down. Going further, I found out that Trish Carpenter was a mother of a two-month-old baby boy. The coroner's investigation said that she died of asphyxiation. An inquest later concluded that Trish's death was indeed suspicious.

The national inquiry report stated that indigenous persons, especially first nations, Inuit and Métis women, are overrepresented as victims of this violence. The tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women is one that the Liberal government has failed to adequately address over its three and half years in office. As with that important issue, the Liberals have left the introduction of this important bill, the indigenous child welfare legislation, to the very last minute, which brings me to the topic tonight of Bill C-92.

I started talking about missing and murdered indigenous women and girls because it is directly related to the legislation before us. Many of the victims were part of the failed welfare system, maybe even the woman I was talking to this morning during the release of the report. However, Bill C-92, an act respecting first nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, is a bill that would bring forth important national principles applicable to the provision of child and family services in relation to indigenous children. These principles in relation to the administration of child and family services with respect to indigenous children are in the best interest of the child, would have cultural continuity and certainly substantive equality in this country. These principles are very important. They are pieces of our country's long road towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

However, as important as these principles in the bill are, I should point out that the current Liberal government has introduced the bill at such a late stage in the parliamentary agenda that Parliament will barely have any time to study it at any length at all. We have seen that in committee. It was all crammed, and we had a couple of weeks at the very most to talk about this crucial bill.

We want to make sure that the principles described in the bill are actually reflected in practice, but that task is made more difficult when important bills such as this one, Bill C-92, are tabled so late in the parliamentary calendar with no excuse at all.

The history of the Canadian government's treatment of indigenous child welfare, we all know, is dark and tragic. Through the use of its residential schools, the Canadian government separated generation after generation of indigenous children from their families, their communities, their culture and their way of life. During the sixties scoop, countless numbers of indigenous children were taken away from their families of birth and placed into non-indigenous homes, where they were simply cut off from their cultural background and their ties to their communities. I know several people in Saskatchewan that this happened to. These are just some of the tragedies that have been inflicted on indigenous children in this country.

As Canada moves forward on a path toward reconciliation, it must do so in a way that represents and respects the rights of indigenous peoples and respects their unique cultural heritage. We support the principles that this bill seeks out in relation to the administration of child and family services with respect to indigenous children. As my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo has pointed out many times in this House, in moving forward with the principles of this bill, we are not denying the hard work of social workers, nor are we not acknowledging the families that have adopted children in the past; we are simply pressing on to do better when it comes to this very important issue.

However, in committee, the Minister of Indigenous Services referred to child welfare workers as being participants in “abduction”. Yes, he said that in committee. This kind of language is both inflammatory and very unhelpful. It divides us rather than bringing us together. In this respect, the minister owes the social welfare agencies, including those run by first nations, an apology. Insulting and inflammatory language has no place in any discussions of this important principle that we are putting forth here tonight.

The first of the principles laid out in this bill is the best interest of the child. That is first and foremost. This principle dictates that among other factors, an indigenous child's cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage must be considered in the context of decision-making by child and family services. This principle is crucially important, as child and family services around this country are moving toward a focus on preventive care in order to keep indigenous children in their communities where they can maintain their valuable cultural ties.

According to Indigenous Services Canada, 52.2% of children aged 14 and under who are living under foster care in private homes are indigenous. This statistic shows that indigenous children are extremely overrepresented in child and family services systems across Canada, especially considering that indigenous children make up only 7.7% of the general population of children 14 years of age and under in this country. It is clear that more work needs to be done so that indigenous children can stay in their communities and build everlasting relationships with the members of their community. This bill highlights the need for the administration of child and family services to have a focus on preventive care so that fewer indigenous children end up in foster homes and away from their culture and their community.

Our former Conservative government also recognized the need to focus on preventive care when it came to the provision of child and family services for indigenous children. Among the different concrete steps that we took to develop a prevention-based orientation was the creation of the enhanced prevention-focused approach, better known as EPFA. The start of it was in 2007. This was a reform of the funding model that had been formerly used by the first nations child and family services program.

It took effect immediately in Alberta. Then a year later Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia adopted it. It was subsequently adopted in Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba.

Funding was specifically redirected towards a prevention-based approach in order to keep indigenous children in their communities and to support the self-sufficiency of these communities in a culturally appropriate manner.

The prevention-oriented focus that was put in place by our former Conservative government refocused child welfare services to a family-centred practice with children-centred outcomes. This approach delivered real and positive results towards turning back the trend of increasingly larger numbers of indigenous children being placed in foster care in this country.

During the length of our former Conservative government, the percentage of first nations children on reserve placed in foster care decreased from 89.67% in the first year, which was 2006-2007, to 76.08% in the year 2014-2015. I think we could all agree we would like it to be zero, but this was a major reduction of over 13%, according to stats gathered by the first nations child and family services program. Over that same time period, the percentages of first nations children placed in kinship care increased from no recorded amount to 17.83% in 2014-2015.

Our former Conservative government also increased first nations child and family services national expenditures by about 50%. These results represent concrete progress achieved by our former Conservative government towards improving child and family services for indigenous children, both in quality of service and, maybe most importantly, the prevention-based outcomes.

Another key aspect of this bill is that it would affirm the rights and jurisdiction of indigenous peoples in relation to child and family services. It would allow indigenous governing bodies to pass their own laws, consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in relation to child and family services, and these laws would have the same force as the federal law. On this issue, however, there are still some outstanding questions that need to be answered.

One such question regards situations in which more than one indigenous governing body claims jurisdiction over a particular child. Today there are many indigenous children who identify as being part of multiple indigenous backgrounds. It is not hard to imagine a child who may have a first nations father and a Métis mother, or vice versa. In these kinds of situations, it is conceivable that two different indigenous governing bodies may each claim full jurisdiction over the provision of child and family services in relation to that child.

While the bill addresses jurisdictional disputes between a province and an indigenous governing body, it does not properly address jurisdictional disputes that may arise between indigenous governing bodies that both have equally strong ties and connections to the indigenous child in question.

This jurisdictional question is one of the concerns that was directly raised in committee while we were studying Bill C-92. One of the committee's witnesses was Raven McCallum, a well-spoken young person who is a youth adviser on the British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development Youth Advisory Council. She is of British and Haida descent on her mother's side, and of Métis descent on her father's side. In her testimony, while talking about Bill C-92, she stated:

I do not see any reference about how to approach situations when a child belongs to more than one nation.

She goes on to say:

I think it's something that is important to acknowledge. We need to know all aspects of our identity.

Time and time again, we heard in committee that indigenous identity is complex and multi-layered. However, this bill still has not adequately addressed these complexities as they relate to jurisdictional issues in the provision of child and family services for indigenous children.

We also want to make sure that this bill would not negatively impact the existing self-government agreements that exist between indigenous governing bodies and the provincial and federal levels of government in relation to child and family services. These kinds of agreements include the three which were recently concluded this past March in my province of Saskatchewan between the provincial government and the Saskatoon Tribal Council.

One of these agreements was a delegation agreement which re-established the Saskatoon Tribal Council's child and family services agency, which will provide services to the on-reserve communities covered by this governing body. Another agreement is the reconciliation partnership agreement, which strives to ensure that indigenous children maintain connections to their culture and communities. These sorts of agreements further the important principle of cultural continuity, which recognizes that one of the crucial interests of indigenous children is to live and grow within their unique cultural and linguistic communities.

As Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand noted about the agreements in committee, “all of this work is about prevention”. In committee, he stressed the importance of the work once again, stating, “Our opinion is we have to build partnerships and relationships, as we've done with the federal and provincial governments. To us, it's meaningful because it's building bridges. We have to work together.”

As we move forward in our consideration of Bill C-92, we need to study how this bill will impact agreement such as these, in order to be sure we are upholding the principles which are stated within the bill itself.

Delegation agreements, such as those made between the Province of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Tribal Council are incredibly important. They are about returning the jurisdiction of care for the indigenous child to the indigenous communities themselves, so that these children are no longer cut off and separated from their culture and heritage.

Cultural continuity is one of the key principles of this bill. It is clear from the testimony of many witnesses that agreements made between the provinces and indigenous governing bodies often play a large role toward ensuring that child and family services are provided in a way that ensures indigenous children maintain strong relationships to their culture and community.

Another issue that arose in committee was the discovery that some major stakeholders who would be immediately impacted by this legislation were not consulted. When Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs came to testify at our committee, he said that his governing body was not consulted at all. The AMC had already crafted its own legislation with respect to child and family services, which was uniquely tailored to the experiences of that governing body's work in the province of Manitoba.

Given that all the groundwork had already been laid, the grand chief told us that Bill C-92 was thrust upon the AMC. He said, “It was quite a surprise when Bill C-92 was presented to us. It was almost [like] a slap in the face, because we had invested so much of our time in bringing forward a solution that everybody could build upon.”

How could the Liberal government introduce a bill that brings such dramatic changes to indigenous child welfare without consulting one of the largest indigenous governing bodies in a province with one of the highest numbers of indigenous children in foster care?

I am running out of time. In general, we support the principles laid out in this bill, and we want this bill to progress. However, the Liberals have put this piece of legislation at the back of their list of priorities. As a result, the Liberal government has left us with hardly any time to peel back the onion and have a great conversation about this bill.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 7:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Saint Boniface—Saint Vital has been a great contributor to the indigenous affairs committee.

Recently, maybe 10 days ago, I spoke at the FSIN spring assembly in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. There are 74 bands there, and not all of them agree with Bill C-92.

As I have talked about, consultation with Manitoba was not done, and the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario both have issues with the bill. However, I guess one cannot get everything right, and we have to move forward.

We heard some great testimony from the Peter Ballantyne Child and Family Services when they came to committee. It was all about children. We want to make things better for everyone's family situation. I talked about this in my passionate speech. It is most important that these kids stay connected to their communities for good.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 7:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, love is the big word in the best interests of the child. It is not in the best interests of the child to remove that child from one area of the country to another area. We have seen it with residential schools and the sixties scoop.

I recently saw the movie, The Grizzlies. It talked about the Inuit situation up north, where people have no hope, no love. It is a fabulous documentary, which was released in this country about five weeks ago. It talks about suicide. It talks about hope and love. When we reach out to communities, it is surprising what we get. I hope Bill C-92 addresses that, because we have seen in the past that we have failed. I hope the indigenous, Inuit and Métis take the ball and run with this, as they know what is best for their communities.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 7:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is ironic that we are bringing Bill C-92 to the House tonight after what we experienced this morning with the report on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. It was a tough day in Gatineau as we heard the stories from the commission.

The issues are intertwined. I talked to a lady who, 27 years later, is still dealing with this. How we deal with child welfare going forward in this country, with 37 million of us today, is so important. It is so important to get this right, and we all want to see it go correctly. It is in the best interests of the child, and that is what we are here to deal with.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 7:25 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am here to speak to Bill C-92, which deals with the important issue, especially to my riding of North Island—Powell River, of indigenous children in care.

I want to take a moment to thank all the local indigenous communities and organizations that represent first nations, Inuit and Métis groups and communities in my riding for the hard work they do every day for the children they represent.

In indigenous communities, children are sacred. I think of some of the communities I represent. I think of the elder, Elsie Paul. She talked to me about how children were seen as a gift from the Creator, that they were given to the community to raise and when that child was taken, what that meant to the community.

I think about Alberta Billy, elder in another indigenous community that I represent. He talked to me about the impact of colonization and residential schools on the community. He told me to imagine my community right now. He said remove every child from the age of four to 16 from the community and see how the community would react and respond. I think of those elders who have watched their communities struggle through the challenges of colonization, residential school, the sixties scoop and many more and how hard that has been on them.

We also need to look at the numbers, and I have some of them today.

One hundred and twelve years ago Dr. Bryce, a medical health officer, linked federal health funding inequities to preventable deaths of first nations children.

Seventy-three years ago child welfare experts called for increasing family support to reduce the number of first nations children in state care. This speaks to something important and something we still have not done, which is prevention and support for those communities.

Thirty-eight years ago experts called on then INAC to resolve jurisdictional disputes resulting in service denials to first nations children.

Twelve years ago the Assembly of First Nations and Caring Society filed the human rights case against Canada.

Two Auditor General reports confirmed child welfare funding inequity since 2008.

There are 165,000-plus first nations children affected by Canada's discriminatory services.

Twenty-five million is the approximate number of nights that first nations children spent in foster care since 2007.

These numbers are startling and they tell us a story about which all of us should be concerned.

Since 2016, seven Human Rights Tribunal orders have required in Canada to cease its discrimination. How many of these Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders has Canada fully complied with? Zero.

Whenever we stand in this place and speak about indigenous children, we must always remember and acknowledge Jordan River Anderson, a Cree child from Norway House Cree Nation. He died in Manitoba in 2005 at the age of five after the Manitoba and federal governments spent years fighting over who would pay for his home care. This speaks to the very core of this issue. It is about valuing indigenous children and the communities that love them. This young boy died as a result of discussions between two levels of government on who would fork over the money.

Nobody wants to know that this is the truth of how their children will treated, so I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge that precious, sacred child, a gift from the Creator who should have been supported and looked after by the whole community, which also includes the country of Canada, and the family that worked so hard to support him and had to meet that terrible end. We cannot forget.

Today, there are three times as many indigenous children in government care as during the peak of the time of residential schools. The conditions and outcomes for kids in care today are often tragic and many experts say that the modern fallout of the child and family services program will now be called “the millennium scoop”. That is devastating. It shows that the history of the country is repeating itself, and this is unacceptable.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the many indigenous artists out there who have spoken, be it through art, poetry or music. We cannot begin to recognize what this has done to the indigenous culture of the Métis, the first nations and Inuit people across the country.

I would like to take this opportunity to share some quotes from members of the Haisla Nation.

One is, “I can't remember my name.”

Another is:

500 years my people have been humble

500 years we have dealt with the struggle

500 more years for all of my youngins

For 500 years we have been drumming and drumming.

We are in this important place, where important decisions are made that will have long-term impacts on people. It is too bad the government waited so long to introduce the bill. Now we are rushing it through.

That is hard for me. I take this really seriously. I have spoken about this in the House and in committee, in my role as vice-chair, about being a foster parent on a reserve, about the hard work we did in the community to try to keep the children at home, connected to their culture. I think of my husband who has taken foster children, young men, out to the river when their voices are changing. We want to keep them connected to the tradition that when they have that change of age, they do the hard work, go out and get the support of the community to do the sacred baths.

Here we are rushing and trying to get it done. Indigenous children need action. However, in the rushing process, I am a little afraid that we will not get it right. We will get it done, but we will not get it right. Indigenous children deserve much better.

Earlier I mentioned the two Auditor General's reports on the failure of the Canadian governments on first nations children in care. In 2008, the Auditor General report found that since 1990, when the child and family service program was created, INAC had given money “to First Nations, their child welfare agencies, and provinces to cover the operating costs of child welfare services on reserves and the costs related to children brought into care.”

The Auditor General also concluded that as of 2008:

The funding INAC provides...is not based on the actual cost of delivering those services. It is based on a funding formula that the Department applies nationwide. The formula dates from 1988. It has not been changed to reflect variations in legislation and in child welfare services from province to province, or the actual number of children in care.

This really speaks to a systemic issue. It speaks to the reality that indigenous children have been left behind and not valued. Not only have they been left behind, but the value and the preventative support that families and communities desperately need are not a priority.

This country knows its history. We know the colonial history. We know the devaluation of indigenous members of the country. We know the history of trying to destroy, in multiple ways, those communities. If we break it, we have to pay for it.

One of the things that concerns me greatly about the legislation is that the principles for funding are not in it. There is a small mention about funding, but it is nothing that will be strong enough. This is framework legislation. It is supposed to create something that is strong enough to hold that legislation indigenous communities bring forward. If the resources are not there, this will be another failure. Another Auditor General's report will tells us that this still has not been addressed.

In 2011, again, the Auditor General reported that:

Despite the federal government’s many efforts to implement our recommendations and improve its First Nations programs, we have seen a lack of progress in improving the lives and well-being of people living on reserves. Services available on reserves are often not comparable to those provided off reserves by provinces and municipalities. Conditions on reserves have remained poor. Change is needed if First Nations are to experience more meaningful outcomes from the services they receive.

Years have gone by. We are now sitting in a Parliament after a Human Rights Tribunal decision was made in 2016. The government of the day received seven non-compliance orders. We are here tonight talking about this legislation. I am concerned, because the proof is in the action, and I do not see that action. What I am most concerned about is the resources required to deal with this systemic issue, to realize that the racism and discrimination is built right into the system. To pull that out takes a lot of work and a lot of resources. If we want to make a difference for indigenous communities, if we want to honour first nations, Inuit and Métis communities, we have to see those resources finally there.

The Human Rights Tribunal in Canada concluded that the then INAC's delivery of services and funding of services was inferior to comparable provincial services and discriminatory on the basis of race. It ordered the government to make up the funding gap and implement Jordan's Principle. As of June 2017, the government has spent $707,000 fighting against this decision, and that is really sad.

When we look at Bill C-92, it is like history is repeating itself. I will support the legislation. I will trust that indigenous communities across the country will do their hard work.

I want to recognize as well that indigenous communities, like the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, have been very clear that they do not support the legislation. I have asked the committee to recognize that and ensure that indigenous communities have the right to opt out, but that they still would get the resources they desperately need to make a difference. However, that is still not addressed in the legislation and it needs to be. It is time for substantive change. It is good to speak about it, but it is important that we act on it as well.

The bill would set national standards, but it has numerous question marks and gaps that are outstanding, including accountability, jurisdiction, data collection and reporting and, most critical, funding. The bill leaves funding to negotiations between Canada, indigenous groups and the provinces, meaning it could vary widely.

As the member for North Island—Powell River, I represent small indigenous communities. Often they are very remote and have a lot of challenges they specifically face. I do not know if the legislation before us will do it, but I will watch and continue to propose solutions. Those small communities have very big challenges and the capacity can be very hard for them to gather. We want to ensure those communities have a voice at the table. We want to ensure they have a process they can move forward with and have faith in. However, there is some concern that those resources will not be there.

A lot of people came to committee and talked about a lot of issues. The vast majority of the witnesses expressed concern. They wanted to see funding principles in the legislation. We were not successful in getting that amendment passed. Therefore, we will all be watching this very closely.

The government was given an opportunity to support funding provisions with which nearly every witness at committee agreed. What we saw were half measures. I am concerned about that and I will be watching for this. We will be talking to communities and ensuring they see the progress that the government has assured us will happen. We need to see that progress. Enough is enough.

These children deserve the right to be children. When they do not have the resources or the home they desperately need, their right to be a child is taken away.

Ms. Natasha Reimer, the founder of Foster Up, spoke to the committee. She said:

Yes. I think funding is a key component. Without adequate funding, services and resources, we are failing these children and youth in care. We leave them unsupported, and unable to thrive and reach their full potential. I think it's crucial that we have legislation ensuring that there is funding allocated for this and that these resources are given the utmost that we could possibly give, because these are children's lives we're talking about. They deserve an opportunity. They are kids, at the end of the day.

I think it is sad how many children in this country have a history of not being allowed to be children. We heard some of that testimony from children who had spent great portions of their childhood in care, and they talked about the challenges. They talked about how hard it was to go home, how they did not know who they were, how hard it was to figure out who to connect with and when to connect with them. We had witnesses who were from multiple nations who did not know which one to go to or who to go to first, or how.

When we look at the system, we can see how broken it is. We heard it from those witnesses who came and talked about their addiction issues. One person gave testimony about the challenges he faced and how hard he had to work to become a parent because he did not know how to be one. I think it is important that we in this place recognize that this falls on our shoulders, because decisions were made here. This decision has to be made and has to be made respectfully, because those children deserve it.

Naiomi Metallic from the Yellowhead Institute stated:

This [funding] is intertwined with jurisdiction because, really, if there is no funding and accountability built into this act, what this bill will do is merely provide indigenous people with the jurisdiction to legislate over their own poverty.

Another issue that came up was the number of children who are taken away from their community because the community does not have the resources, the basic necessities, to provide for their children, which should never happen. That does not mean we should leave children in substandard housing; it means this place has to take responsibility and look at how it can become an ally. This is still an issue. We still do not know where the indigenous plan is for housing. I think that is devastating in this day and age.

Another thing that really concerned me was the best interests of the child. That has been defined by court systems across Canada, both provincially and federally. In the community I married into, the Homalco First Nation, when I had my children with my husband, I was told the relationship between the parent and the child is deemed completely sacred and that nothing should ever interfere with that loving relationship. In that community, the historic practice was that aunties and uncles were in charge of disciplining the child, because they did not want that to interfere, ever, with the parents' ability to love that kid up. There are ways that certain things are done, and making sure that this is recognized is important.

I want to thank the national chief from the Assembly of First Nations, who stated:

...the best interests of the child sections should be amended to clarify that first nations governing bodies that pass laws prescribing the factors for determining the best interests of the children will add to the factors in the bill, creating recognition and support for our ways of caring for our children and families. This is important, because for some of our people we do not remove a child. We remove the person harming the child and keep the family intact. We believe that this is in the best interests of the child. Our laws must be affirmed and our practices supported to preserve family unity.

Therefore, we must understand in this place that indigenous communities do it differently. Quite frankly, I think we have a lot to learn from that. What concerns me is that this legislation is not clear enough to make sure that the definition is defined in those communities. It has been defined already in the court systems in this country, which could be a serious concern. I do not think that was addressed as clearly as it could be.

I know my time is ending, so I want to take this opportunity to recognize the first peoples of this place—the indigenous communities, the first nations, the Inuit and Métis—and say that it is with great sorrow that we are here today debating this. This should not be what is happening. The history of Canada is a shameful one.

As my granny said, we have to make it right, so I will support this bill and I look forward to continuing to work hard in the future to make it right.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 7:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, this bill is so important. There was discussion about the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. The bill they proposed presents an entirely different world view. Bill C-92 is going to allow a lot more leeway for that world view to shine forth. The bill from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs talks about ceremony. It is about the interconnected, holistic nature of the indigenous philosophy, which perhaps we will not find in federal legislation but which is extremely important in how indigenous peoples seriously view the world.

I hope, as the bill moves to its final stages through the Senate, that when the Governor General gives royal assent to the bill, ceremony plays an important role. I know that the bill that was developed by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs was developed in ceremony, through prayer and through the use of the pipe, with a great amount of spirituality and the use of the drums.

This might sound strange in this place with respect to how we deal with legislation here, but it was extremely important to the people of Manitoba and the people who developed that bill and the way they wanted to move forward. I hope the government will be able to find an additional accommodation at the royal assent stage to know that this bill is imbued with the spirit of all Canadians in coming together in the belief that our children really do matter.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 7:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, in my riding, I have seven first nations, and one of them is Cowessess First Nation. Chief Cadmus Delorme was here last week. Cowessess First Nation has done tremendous work. They have built windmills that are producing megawatts to the SaskPower system. They have put in big solar panels as well.

In the past week, they have brought forward a youth transition home for 10 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 to allow these 10 girls to come back to the first nation to live and be cared for.

I am wondering if the member can tell us how she sees that Bill C-92 will be a benefit.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 8 p.m.
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Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg Centre.

I am pleased to rise today during third reading debate on Bill C-92, an act respecting first nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.

Let me first recognize that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin people.

Bill C-92 seeks to establish a framework for indigenous communities to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services. This is in keeping with the inherent right of self-government of indigenous peoples. The bill also sets out principles, applicable on a national level, for the provision of child and family services in relation to indigenous children and families. These principles intend to help ensure that indigenous children and their families will be treated with dignity and that their rights will be preserved.

To be specific, the bill before us provides clear affirmation of the inherent right of first nations, Inuit and the Métis to exercise jurisdiction in relation to child and family services. This would strengthen the mandate of indigenous governing bodies to administer prevention and protection programs and services for child and family services in a way that reflects their customs, practices and traditions. The bill would also empower them to enact laws in this area if they choose to do so.

One size does not fit all. Indigenous peoples would be free to assume partial or full jurisdiction over child and family services at their own pace. This would enable indigenous people to tailor the exercise of their jurisdiction to their needs.

I want to emphasize that this bill is not about imposing solutions; rather, it is about opening the door and beginning a new era in which indigenous peoples can pursue their own solutions for their children and families.

In fact, this proposed legislation has been co-developed with the first nation, Inuit and Métis peoples whose child and family services it will affect. We introduced it only after careful engagement. We held over 65 different meetings and heard from nearly 2,000 people from across the country. However, just as the bill was co-developed with first nations, Inuit and Métis, so will be its implementation, and we will continue to engage with indigenous partners, provinces and territories throughout the implementation, should the bill receive royal assent.

All too often, past decisions affecting children and families have been made without putting the best interests of the child first. This bill changes that and has the best interests of the child as its central objective. Bill C-92 establishes principles that help to identify factors to be considered in determining the best interests of the child. These principles would have to be observed by provincial and territorial courts as well as by providers of child and family services.

Nothing would preclude provinces and territories or the indigenous governing bodies from offering more protection than that which is set out here. This bill represents the floor, not the ceiling, of the provisions to protect the best interests of an indigenous child. The end result would be to have the cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage of the child given more priority in determining his or her best interests.

A number of amendments that strengthen the bill were adopted by the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs during the clause-by-clause consideration. One of these amendments would ensure that when determining the best interests of an indigenous child, primary consideration would be given to the child's physical, emotional and psychological safety, security, and well-being, as well as to preserving the child's connection to his or her family, community and culture.

Clause 10 was also amended to clarify that the best interests of the child are to be interpreted, to the extent it is possible, in a manner that is compatible with a provision of an indigenous law.

Another amendment deals with fiscal arrangements. It outlines the importance of fiscal arrangements to help ensure that the indigenous governing bodies can provide services that are sustainable, needs-based and consistent with the principle of substantive equality.

A third element was added to the bill, stating more clearly that it will align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which the government declared unqualified support in 2016. Taken overall, the bill before us seeks to ensure that indigenous child and family services are aligned with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Bill C-92 is the product of broad engagement and the result of a codevelopment process with indigenous partners. It represents a historic opportunity to break from the past and protect indigenous children and their families for generations to come.

It was such a privilege to be on the committee that studied the bill and to hear the many witnesses who came before the committee to express their support for it. I feel the reason they expressed support for the bill is that, as mentioned earlier, it is a framework. It is a starting point for indigenous communities and peoples to take control of indigenous family and child services and put in place their own laws that they feel will benefit their communities, their families and, most importantly, their children.

As has been noted many times in debate, that is what this is all about. It is about children and their best interests. For too long, our country has not had the best interests of indigenous children in mind. I am so proud that Bill C-92 is going to change that and provide the opportunity for indigenous communities to enact their own laws that will be in the best interests of their communities and in the best interests of their children.

We heard from so many about the importance of the paramountcy of indigenous law over federal and provincial law. That is such an important component because it helps indigenous communities, once again, to have the certainty that they know what is best for their own children and what laws best reflect their communities, their culture and the best interests of their children.

I was very happy to see the collegial atmosphere that existed at committee with my NDP and Conservative colleagues and counterparts as we made sure that the bill moved through committee as quickly and efficiently as possible. One message rang true at committee. It was the overwhelming desire, from every person and witness who came to committee, to make the legislation a reality as quickly as possible so that indigenous communities can make the determination of what is in the best interests of their children.

I urge all hon. members to join me in supporting the bill to move it through the House as quickly as possible.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 8:30 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for Winnipeg Centre for standing in this House and raising a point of privilege to ensure that when it came to indigenous languages, they would be able to be interpreted and heard in this House. When the government took action, he was the first member to stand and share a speech. I was pleased to be able to hear the interpretation and understand what he was saying. I commend the member for knowing the language of his roots and of his foundation.

When it comes to Bill C-91 and Bill C-92, this is legislation that I have had to give notice of time allocation on. When it came to this piece of legislation tonight, it is the first time that I will not have to move time allocation, because the opposition has finally realized it is the right thing to do.

I would like to hear directly from the member what this legislation means to him, and for his roots and for future generations, and why he is pleased that we are moving ahead.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 8:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, because of that motion, I have to cut my speech down by 10 minutes and share my time with the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, which I do with great pleasure. I will highlight some of what I originally intended to talk about.

Today is a particularly important day and I truly am glad we came to an agreement to move this forward.

Having been at the ceremony for the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls and knowing how much the child welfare system played a role in some very tragic outcomes for many of the people we have heard about today, to pass this child welfare legislation on to the Senate is absolutely significant and very appropriate. It also shows significant good will in the House.

We have always expressed concern about how late in the day we received the legislation. The Senate has only about two and a half weeks. However, on the House side, there is a recognition and good will to get the legislation passed.

When we think about the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls and the child welfare legislation, many cases come to people's minds. However, the tragedy of Tina Fontaine stands out in all our minds. Her body was found in the river on October 17, 2014, wrapped in a duvet. No one was ever convicted. The authorities had someone whom they questioned, but no one has ever been convicted.

Tina Fontaine represents so many things that have gone wrong, that have been wrong for too many years and that we all need to work together to address: colonialism, intergenerational trauma, the sixties scoop and the residential schools.

In honour of Tina's memory and the significance of the day, I want to share a few details from the report that was done on Tina Fontaine. This is a bit of the executive summary and some other parts of the report. It says:

Tina Fontaine might always be known for the tragic way in which she died, but it is her life that is an important story worth knowing. It was on August 17, 2014, when most people would learn her name, but Tina's story began long before that day. It began even before Tina was born on New Year's Day in 1999. To know Tina's story, to really understand how she came to symbolize a churning anger of a nation enraged, each of us can look as far back as the arrival of European settlers, and as close to home as the depth of our own involvement or indifference in the lives and experiences of indigenous youth.

It is a certain challenge to conduct a child death investigation. To gather files and evidence, to sort through boxes of information, to speak with an ever-growing list of people who knew the child, and then to create an accurate and thoughtful story about the life of that child. This is a process of honouring legacy and uncovering truths. To understand the complexities of any child and to truly understand their life within the broader context of a family...

It goes on to say:

Tina's story was her own, and yet, it mirrors the stories of many others. The losses she experienced, the fracturing of her family, the inability to access necessary support, the promises of services that were never delivered, these are the echoes of so many other children and their families. These barriers that are experienced much more often and pervasively by Indigenous families is the story of Tina and the one that we have the opportunity to change.

One of the things the report talks about is the areas on which we need to reflect:

What were Tina's needs and those of her family?

What interventions and supports were offered and when?

What is the family perspective on the services they received?

What needs to be improved?

What do the experts say needs to happen?

What do the Elders say we need to remember?

What do youth say they need to feel supported? And,

How can tragedies like Tina's death be prevented in the future?

This morning, the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its report, which is 1,200 pages with 231 recommendations. I do not think anyone has had the opportunity to really digest that report and the different recommendations. As I read through them, certainly there are some that jump out right away and make a lot of sense, around policing and our processes around protocols. Then there are other recommendations that one questions and wonders how they will work.

However, it is incumbent upon us all to have a look at that report, look at the recommendations and consider what we need to do. The recommendations are for all levels of government. It is federal, provincial and municipal, but also indigenous levels of government, as well as indigenous and non-indigenous communities. There is a role for everyone to play.

I will go back to the report:

While I know that the child and family services (CFS) system has long been blamed for Tina’s death, this is short-sighted and serves only to reinforce the existing structures and beliefs. In fact, Tina did not spend much time inside the CFS system.... While she was in care for a few short periods when she was very young, Tina had a family who were a significant protective force—especially her grandma and grandpa—who loved her and raised her from the time she was five years old....

It is a long story, but it is a very compelling and important one to read. Some relatives of Tina's decided that they had to do something, and I understand the Bear Clan evolved from the legacy of Tina. Her uncle was part of getting that initiative going. There are hundreds of people who volunteer and travel the streets, and they are really making a difference in that community. Out of a tragedy, there is a reflection, changes in the community and the inquiry.

In terms of Bill C-92, we had very interesting testimony from many leaders. The most compelling testimony was from the youth in care. There were three youth who came to us and shared their experiences. They talked about who they were, what they were and what the challenges were in terms of the system: how it either helped them or, in too many cases, let them down. We all owe them a great gratitude for their ability to come and share their stories so that when we looked at Bill C-92, we did not look at it as a lot of words on a piece of paper; we looked at it and reflected on their stories and how that legislation needed to change their stories.

One thing that is not in the legislation, and perhaps there needs to be better discussion about it sometime, is the whole issue of youth aging out of care. I do not know how many parents would send their children at 18 or 19 years of age out the door, wish them the best of luck and say that they have done what they needed to do. There was discussion that we would not do that to our own children. The province, the first nation community or the federal government is the parent of a child in care, and we need to think about how we can support them better. These days, someone who is 18 or 19 years old truly is not ready.

On that note, I give a big shout-out to Kamloops and the White Buffalo society. It has a home for youth aging out of care. They are bringing elders who need affordable housing into their structure, and they are going to have youth aging out of care. It is a really positive cultural experience.

My final shout-out is that Bill C-92 is a step. It is not a perfect step, and we have many other things we need to think about.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 8:50 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo and all members in this place for speeding up the passage of Bill C-92. I would have had a chance to make a speech tonight, and I stopped myself, because it is more important that we get this bill through.

I have some of the same misgivings as my friend. I put forward 28 amendments in clause by clause in an attempt to take up some of the recommendations of Dr. Cindy Blackstock and the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society, the Carrier Sekani Family Services and others who testified at committee, but it is important that we pass it.

I was present this morning for the very moving presentation of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Tina Fontaine's grandmother was there. I am sure that my friend from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo recalls that Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said that she could feel that her granddaughter's spirit was with us. One of the key recommendations from the inquiry is that safe shelter for indigenous young people must be available 24 hours a day, because Tina sought help, and the doors were closed.

I know it is a 1,200-page report. We cannot have read all of it. I know I have not, but I hope everyone in this place, in Tina's memory, will commit at least that no first nation child, no child in this country, should go without protection, regardless of the time of night.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 8:50 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to speak to this bill because I believe that the health and well-being of indigenous children is one of the most important issues before us as federally elected representatives. We are responsible for them and, sadly, we have made too many mistakes that affect them. As elected representatives, it is our duty to fix those mistakes. That is why this bill was crafted following court rulings stating that indigenous children were victims of a discriminatory funding system and identifying our obligation to remedy that. It took five court rulings for a bill to be introduced.

It would have been really nice if the committee had agreed to amendments to the bill, regardless of who proposed them. I believe that all the committee members sincerely wanted to improve the lives of indigenous children, but I think many more amendments would have been agreed to if the members truly wanted to set aside partisanship in order to improve the lives of these children, even though this parliamentary session is almost over. I am sad that the vast majority of the amendments put forward in committee were rejected.

I myself wanted the chance to speak to this bill at second reading, but I chose not to do so because I did not want to unduly delay adoption at second reading, so the bill could be sent to committee. Now I am fortunate to be the last member to speak to this bill before it goes to the Senate. I really wanted to emphasize the importance of making quite a few of these amendments because children's well-being is at stake. We do not want to have to start all over again. This I humbly submit to the senators who will study the bill and who may choose to revisit some of the amendments.

When I leave Ottawa to head home, I drive north for at least six hours. Each time, I pass through Kitigan Zibi, a reserve just outside of Maniwaki. As an aside, Parliament is located on their ancestral land. Every time I make this drive, sometimes twice a week, I see the photos of Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander, two teen girls who have gone missing since 2008 and have not been heard from since. Community members are still worried about them.

This is why I am particularly pleased to speak today. We must recognize that many indigenous children have had some very difficult experiences. For example, some children were placed with foster families who do not understand their traditions or language. A huge proportion of these children are placed in foster care every day, and, unfortunately, not all of them are lucky enough to live with people who understand their culture and their identity.

Many of these children are placed with foster families who do not understand their realities, while others still are raised by parents who did not have the chance to be raised by their own parents, who were forced to send their children to a residential school. This generation must now raise teenagers without having learned from their own parents.

I believe that members of indigenous communities deserve our admiration, because they are doing the best they can to pass on all aspects of their culture to their children, to show them who they are and where they come from, even though they themselves were unable to learn these things from their own parents.

As an MP, I have had the opportunity to visit a number of schools in indigenous communities and to see young people learning the Algonquin language, using charts with Algonquin words written on them. Young people are starting to learn the basics of Algonquin. When I was a young adult, I shared an apartment with a young Algonquin girl who had never had the opportunity to learn the language. She had a workbook that her mother had found for her. She was 18 or 19 years old and had never had the chance to learn the language.

This generation is trying to catch up. To do so, they need to be involved with child services on a daily basis. Indigenous peoples have a very different way of raising children. Over time, working as a nurse, I realized that everything related to pregnancy is very different for them. Too often, we tend to judge based on our own perspectives.

In indigenous communities, it is not unusual for teenagers or 18-year-old girls to already have two or three children. That often does not make any sense to us, and we think it must be a problem situation. However, when we talk to those girls, we realize that they do not have the same view as we do of getting pregnant at 15 or 16 years old. If we continue to judge these sorts of situations from our own perspective, unfortunately, it could result in child placement services being called in, even though the girls see the situation completely differently.

Children are placed in care when there is a concern for their safety and their development is at risk. However, we are somewhat responsible for some of those risks, because no new housing has been built on reserves in 30 years and we are failing to provide clean drinking water and schools that are not falling apart. All we have to offer these children is mould-infested schools.

When children have absolutely nowhere to play and community infrastructure is in a pitiful state, child development may well be compromised. How much of this is the parents' responsibility? At what point should there be consequences? In fact, most of that responsibility falls to the system the children are forced into. It is up to us as elected officials to change the system and give power back to the communities, so that they can invest, build housing and make sure that pregnant teens can continue their education while also looking after their children. It is up to us to make sure that schools full of mould quickly become a thing of the past.

I was lucky enough to see a beautiful school built in my riding, in Long Point First Nation. It has made such a difference. Kids used to have to go to a mould-infested school that was eventually shut down by the school board. Since the school was located in the next town, the kids had to take a bus. That building was in really bad shape. Teenagers went to school in their own community, but they had to take classes in the gymnasium, where there were no windows, because there was mould everywhere else. The young people were self-harming. It was a disaster. It took years for them to finally get their school.

The design of this school is quite unique. It is well lit, a lot of wood was used, and it is in the shape of a hive. The children are put in a circle so that they can see each other and communicate with one another. We can see on their faces that these children are doing better. The community knew that the children needed a nice school that they could be proud of in order to be happy.

Today I am calling on the House to pass Bill C-92, for it to be referred to the Senate, but also that we not forget that the indigenous communities need to be allocated a significant amount of funding to ensure that the children are happy. It is the responsibility of elected members to ensure that indigenous communities can benefit from funding to fully develop and that children can stop being exposed to discrimination.

Indigenous and Northern AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 30th, 2019 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

MaryAnn Mihychuk Liberal Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, two reports of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

The first is the 19th report in relation to Bill C-92, an act respecting first nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. The committee has studied the bill and has decided report the bill back to the House with amendments.

With the introduction of Bill C-92, we mark a historic turning point for first nations, Inuit and Métis children and families. Bill C-92 would finally put in law what indigenous peoples across the country have been asking of governments for decades: that their inherent jurisdiction be affirmed so they can decide what is best for their children, their families and their communities. The amendments that we accepted at committee yesterday would strengthen the bill further. We will continue to listen to our partners on this important legislation.

The second is the 20th report in relation to Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 30th, 2019 / 3:10 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, this afternoon, we will resume debate at report stage of Bill C-93, an act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis. Tomorrow, we will start report stage of Bill C-97, budget implementation act, 2019, No. 1.

Currently, the intention is to have Monday, June 3 and Friday, June 7 as allotted days.

Next week, priority shall be given to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act; Bill C-93, concerning cannabis pardons; Bill C-92, an act respecting first nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families; Bill C-88, concerning the Mackenzie Valley; and government business no. 29, the national climate emergency.

We will also give priority to bills coming back from the Senate.

Finally, I would like to mention that following Private Members' Business on Tuesday and Wednesday evening next week, we will have three hours set aside for speeches by members not seeking re-election in the next election.

These are our current intentions, but as we know, things can always change.