Doing it Our Way - It-To-Ta-Maso-Wak

MKO Child Welfare Secretariat

Providing advocacy and support to MKO First Nations children, youth and families involved in the child and family services system in Manitoba, as well as other jurisdictions.

The MKO Child Welfare Secretariat works to improve outcomes for First Nations children, youth and families.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) was created to provide a voice for First Nations in northern Manitoba that felt they were not being heard. It is meant to create opportunities by advocating, lobbying and protecting the powers and authority of the 26 MKO sovereign First Nations, and their inherent Treaty and Aboriginal rights. The MKO Child Welfare Secretariat is focused specifically on the prevention, safety and rights of First Nation children.

2020 Annual Report Documents

Annual Report for the Year Ending March 31, 2020.

Download the Annual Report

Companion Document to 2020 Child Welfare Secretariat Annual Report – Overview of Presentation
to MKO Chiefs Assembly November, 2019.

Download the Companion Document

What is the MKO Child Welfare Secretariat?

History

During the 1980s, the MKO leadership and community representatives raised concerns about child and family matters, including the overrepresentation of First Nations children in the CFS system, children lost through the “sixties scoop”, and the intergenerational impact of residential schools.

In 1992, the MKO Chiefs-in-Assembly called for the establishment of the MKO Child Welfare Secretariat to act as a resource and support centre for the First Nations Child and Family Services Agencies in northern Manitoba.

Between 1992 and 2000, with the support of the MKO leadership, MKO staff initiated the developmental work to establish the MKO Child Welfare Secretariat.

In July 2000, the MKO Child Welfare Secretariat office was formally established.

Role of the MKO Child Welfare Secretariat

The MKO Child Welfare Secretariat provides advocacy, guidance, and support to MKO First Nations children, youth and families who are involved in the child welfare system in Manitoba, as well as other jurisdictions . It is working to ensure the unique, customary care practices of each MKO First Nation are recognized and respected by the provincial and federal governments.

Key Functions

  • Providing technical support to the MKO leadership
  • Legislation and standards development
  • Research and development
  • Policy and program development
  • Training
  • Advocacy and support
  • Community consultation and engagement
The Vision of MKO Child Welfare Transformation
  • Each of the 26 MKO First Nations will develop and implement their own Family Law based on the universal laws of their Nations.
  • The governments of Canada and Manitoba will recognize and respect band care practices and customs regarding the upbringing of children.
  • Every First Nations child will be raised with the essentials of parents, extended family, communities, culture and care.

MKO First Nations Family Law

Community Consultation

In July 1996, the MKO Chiefs-in-Assembly called for the implementation of a community consultation process to document values and beliefs on child and family matters to serve as a foundation for developing a legislative framework for First Nations child and family services. The MKO Child and Family Jurisdiction Project was established in December 1996 to undertake this work.

Between 1997 and 2000, an extensive community consultation process was conducted in the MKO First Nations. The process included community workshops, a community survey, and an Elders Forum.

Legislative Framework

In 1998, the MKO Chiefs-in-Assembly called for the development of a legislative framework for First Nations child and family services.

In 1999, following a consultation process, the draft MKO Family Law, called Minisiwin Winiswaywin, was created to promote family unity and wellness and to serve as a basis for MKO First Nations to develop their own laws for child welfare.  It was endorsed by the MKO Chiefs‑in‑Assembly in 1999.

Between 2000 and 2018, the MKO Child Welfare Secretariat continued to develop the draft MKO Family Law in collaboration with stakeholders, including the MKO leadership and community members, First Nations Child and Family Services Agencies, and the First Nations of Northern Manitoba Child and Family Services Authority.

On June 21, 2019, Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children, youth and families became law.  In November 2019, the MKO Chiefs-in-Assembly directed the MKO Child Welfare Secretariat to update the draft MKO Family Law in relation to Bill C-92.

Federal Legislation on Indigenous Child Welfare

On January 1, 2020, the federal law, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children, youth and families (the Act), came into effect.  The Act enables First Nations to develop their own laws for child welfare.

MKO Family Law

Since 2020, as directed by the MKO leadership, the MKO Child Welfare Secretariat continues to develop the draft MKO Family Law in relation to the federal Act and create a template law for all MKO communities to adopt if they choose.  The Secretariat is working with one MKO community as a pilot to build a tool kit for developing law.

The MKO Child Welfare Secretariat continues to collaborate with Mack Law Corp. in developing the draft MKO Family Law.

Community Well-Being and Jurisdiction Initiatives

In 2018, the federal government allocated funds to a new Community Well-Being and Jurisdiction Initiative (CWJI) funding stream as part of the ongoing efforts toward reforming the Child and Family Services Program.

The CWJI funding stream supports First Nations in two areas:

  • Community Well-Being: supporting First Nation communities in the development and delivery of prevention services that help families at risk stay together.
  • Jurisdiction: supporting First Nations to exercise their jurisdiction for child and family services.

Key areas of CWJI funded activities include:

  • Reducing apprehensions of newborns
  • Reuniting our children with healthy families
  • Supporting youth in care (or have been in care) transitioning to adulthood
  • Jurisdiction to develop First Nations laws

In Manitoba, since 2018, the CWJI allocation for First Nations communities is $15.3M annually until the end of March 2023.   As well, the CWJI funding is over and above the prevention funding provided to First Nation Child and Family Services Agencies.

The MKO Child Welfare Secretariat continues to work with Indigenous Services Canada in the allocation of CWJI funds to MKO communities, as well as assisting MKO First Nations in developing CWJI funding proposals.

The MKO Child Welfare Secretariat Can Provide Advocacy and Support

For assistance, call us at:

204-451-0226
204-914-4687
1-800-442-0488