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Saturday, January 4, 2020

11,000 children caught in jurisdictional limbo

The new federal law titled An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth, and families (also called Bill C-92) came into effect Wednesday. Passed in the days before the federal election, the law proposes to establish protections for Indigenous children and their families, as well as hand over responsibility for Indigenous child welfare to Indigenous governments — who receive responsibility once institutions, policies and laws are developed and approved (presumably based on Indigenous cultural values, principles, and histories, but the law is vague on this).
The law has been criticized heavily for its paternalistic attitude, lack of funding and resources for planning and delivery, and necessary legal changes to ensure the handover is a success. Most First Nations have begun planning the process of implementation anyway. 

READ: 11,000 children caught in jurisdictional limbo

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

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