Bill C92 FAQ’s
The ‘Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families’ , also known as Bill C-92, came into force on January 1, 2020.
This act 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.
Bill C-92 recognizes Lac Seul First Nation’s right to govern our own child and family services – creating our own systems, supports, laws and standards for children in need of protection, prevention, and families that may be at risk of having a child taken into care.
The act provides Lac Seul First Nation with two options to exercise its jurisdiction (authority):
- Option one: means Indigenous groups can exercise their jurisdiction, but their laws on child and family services do not override federal, provincial and territorial laws.
- Option two: allows Indigenous communities to exercise their jurisdiction, but their laws on child and family services prevail over federal, provincial and territorial ones.
We are currently moving forward with Option two.
Bill C-92 sets forward a set of national standards to guide the delivery of child welfare services across Canada, which is aimed to reduce the number of Indigenous children in provincial care.
Under the current Canadian Constitution Section 35-1, Bill C-92 acknowledges the inherent rights of Indigenous people, the inherent right of Lac Seul First Nation to govern over the area of child and family services, and sets out a process that give responsibility to develop custom child welfare law for our community.
Bill C-92 recognizes and affirms the inherent right of Lac Seul First Nation to develop and administer customary Child Welfare Laws based on Lac Seul traditional knowledge, values and ways of caring for children and supporting families as Anishinaabe people.
These include standards related to the best interest of the child, cultural continuity, and substantive equality to access needed resources and services for Indigenous children across Canada.
Lac Seul First Nation will exercise jurisdiction in child and family services.
Lac Seul Child Welfare Legislation will prevail over provincial, territorial and federal laws according to the best interest of the child.
It also establishes National Standards to ensure the well-being of Indigenous Children, and will apply to all provinces.
Bill C-92 will help children stay with their families and promote connections to their culture and community. The bill is focused on the importance of reuniting and / or placing Indigenous children with their families and communities.
Under the current Canadian Constitution Section 35-1, which acknowledges the Inherent rights of Indigenous people, it is the inherent right of Lac Seul First Nation to govern over the area of child and family services, and sets out a process that give responsibility to develop custom child welfare law for our community.
The National Standards section of the Bill C-92 has four sections:
- Purpose and Principles
- Best interests of the Indigenous child;
- Provision of Child and Family Services
- Placement of an Indigenous child.
Substantive equality is a legal principle that refers to the achievement of true equality in outcomes. It is achieved through equal access, equal opportunity, and most importantly, the provision of services and benefits that meet any unique needs and circumstances. Substantive equality is a process and end goal relating to outcomes that seeks to acknowledge and overcome the barriers that have led to the inequality in the first place.
Cultural continuity is the ability to preserve the historical traditions of a culture and carry them forward with that culture into the future, and it is closely linked to the concept of our cultural identity. Indigenous identity formation is strengthened by access to cultural and ancestral knowledge, which helps to foster resilience in young Indigenous people.
Studies have found that a positive and strong cultural identity achieved through cultural continuity is a protective factor for mental health issues and youth suicide. Further, a positive cultural identity protects against the aggression of discrimination, racism and negative stereotyping experienced by Indigenous people.
Bill C-92 provides an opportunity for Lac Seul First Nation to choose our own solutions for our children and families.
It means that we can ensure that our children and youth stay with our families and communities, where they will be supported through ta continuity of care focused on prevention, intervention, culture, language and kinship.
It also means that Lac Seul First Nation will have responsibility and authority over our children in care across Canada, with a focus on keeping children with our families, whether it’s an immediate or extended family member within the community.
Developing ways to help prevent the need for child apprehension will be one of our main goals.
Bill C-92 is happening in two phases, and these phases will depend on what individual First Nations communities choose to do with this legislation.
- The first phase of implementation adds the federal laws (and /or minimum standards) contained within Bill C-92 alongside existing provincial and territorial laws. Most of the time, both laws will apply. However, if there is conflict or inconsistency between the federal and provincial rules, the Federal rules will apply.
- The second phase of implementation is the creation of Indigenous Laws to exercise our authority in child and family services. This includes legislative authority in relation to these services, and the authority to administer and enforce such laws. *Lac Seul First Nation is currently at this phase.
To use Bill C-92, Indigenous governments must give notice to the provincial and federal governments that it intends to exercise its jurisdiction (authority), and enter into a coordination agreement with them. Once the coordination agreement is made, or after one year (whichever is soonest), it becomes law and has the same force as a federal law, and prevails over provincial CFS legislation.
We began the process of community consultation with Lac Seul membership (on and off reserve) for the creation of our own Indigenous Child Welfare law in the summer of 2021.
The goal of these sessions was to inform about the process, and to engage key stakeholders to share best practice knowledge to inform the creation of this important legislation.
To date, sessions have been held in all three Lac Seul communities (Whitefish Bay, Kejick Bay and Frenchman’s Head for Elders, Youth, Mothers, Fathers, Parents, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Foster Parents, Community Programs, Child & Family Agencies, Chief, Council and Band Administration.
Sessions for Off-Reserve members have also been held in Winnipeg and Red Lake.
We are working to prepare a first draft of Lac Seul’s Child Welfare Legislation for community member review and input by (insert date). Legal and academic experts will be engaged to review and finalize our new law once approved by the community.
Lac Seul First Nation, Ontario and Canada will begin to negotiate a Coordination Agreement to identify funding, implementation of the new Lac Seul Child Welfare Law for the improved delivery of child and family services.
A strategic plan is set to be completed by December 31, 2021 to begin implementation.