MKO Family First Nation 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 Family First Nation Secretariat is working to improve outcomes for First Nations children, youth and families.
The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (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 Family First Nation Secretariat is focused on promoting prevention, safety and the rights of First Nation children.
2022 Annual Report Documents
Annual Report for the Year Ending March 31, 2022.
Companion Document to 2022 Child Welfare Secretariat Annual Report – Family Law Template
What is the MKO Family First Nation Secretariat?
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 a MKO child and family 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 a MKO child and family secretariat.
In July 2000, the MKO Child Welfare Secretariat office was formally established. In April 2023, as directed by the MKO Chiefs Task Force on Child Welfare Transformation, the name was changed to the MKO Family First Nation Secretariat.
Role of the MKO Family First Nation Secretariat
As directed by the MKO Chiefs-in-Assembly, the primary role of the MKO Family First Nation Secretariat is to provide advocacy and technical support to the MKO leadership and communities in child welfare. The Secretariat also provides advocacy and support to First Nations children, youth and families in Manitoba, as well as other jurisdictions.
- Providing advocacy and technical support to the MKO leadership
- Providing support to MKO First Nations in exercising jurisdiction in child welfare
- Research and analysis
- Policy and proposal development
- Advocacy and support to First Nations children, youth and families
- Community consultation and engagement
- Participation on advisory and technical committees
MKO First Nations Family Law
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.
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 continued 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 MKO Child Welfare Secretariat has been working with Mack Law Corp. in developing the draft MKO Family Law. In May 2021, a fourth draft of the MKO Family Law was developed.
On May 27, 2021, the MKO Executive Council adopted the motion to move forward with the MKO Family Law template, remove the “Draft”, and circulate it to the MKO communities.
The MKO Child Welfare Secretariat is available to support and assist MKO First Nations in developing child welfare laws at their request.
Jordan’s Principle is a legal rule and child-first principle named in memory of Jordan River Anderson. It esnures First Nations children receive the services and supports they need when they need them. Canada is legally responsible for implementing Jordan’s Principle.
What is covered?
Any service, support or item that a First Nations child needs, including:
- Health needs
- Mobility aids
- Medical health services
- Medical supplies
- Social needs
- Land-based activities
- Specialized summer camps
- Educational needs
- Teaching assistants
- Assisted technologies
Who is eligible?
First Nations children from birth to the age of majority (to the age of 18 in Manitoba).
How do I apply?
Contact a Family First Nation Secretariat intake worker at the MKO Office in Thompson or Winnipeg.
- Thompson Office: (204) 677-1600
- Winnipeg Office: (204) 927-7500
Once the intake is completed, an intake worker will contact you to arrange a meeting date.
- 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.