Tobique First Nation Adopts Dedicated Child Welfare Act
Wolastoqewiyik Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation) made history on June 8 after becoming the first Wolastoqey nation in the country to ratify its own Child and Family Well-Being Act.
Similar to the federal government’s C-92, also known as the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, it empowers Indigenous communities to take jurisdiction over child and family services.
Neqotkuk First Nation Chief Ross Perley said this is a historic step towards self-determination, adding that it will ensure kids and their families can stay healthy, achieve their dreams and celebrate their culture while living at home.
“We have talked for a long time about making our laws and taking control over child welfare for our community, our families,” said Perley in a news release.
“The Neqotkuk Child and Family Well-Being Act makes this goal a reality.”
The Wolastoqey nation noted this was a recommendation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help address the ongoing legacy of Residential Schools and Indian Day Schools.
The new Neqotkuk Child and Family Well-Being Act introduces the following changes:
- Recognizes the rights of the child
- Exercises inherent right to make laws governing child welfare amongst Neqotkukiyik
- Establishes Neqotkuk jurisdiction and definition of the best interest of the child
- Unifies families through a proactive prevention-based child and family well-being model
- Builds service models representative of Wolastoqiyik Neqotkuk
- Replaces the Province of New Brunswick’s authority over child welfare matters in Neqotkuk
Neqotkuk First Nation has operated a child welfare agency, the Tobique Child and Family Services Agency Inc., since 1985, delivering services designed by federal and provincial governments.
The act will also allow the agency to design child welfare services.
“The New Brunswick Social Development department has been a solid and reliable partner and we look forward to working productively with them to implement this law and establish its support through provincial institutions,” said Perley.