MKO Family First Nation Secretariat

Providing political advocacy and technical support to MKO First Nations in child welfare

The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) was established in 1981 to provide a voice for First Nations in northern Manitoba.

The objectives of MKO, as set out in the MKO Constitution (2021), are to generally maintain, strengthen, enhance, lobby for and defend the interests and rights of MKO First Nations and to promote, develop and secure a standard and quality of life deemed desirable and acceptable by MKO First Nations. MKO continues to apply these objectives in the context of child and family services.

2023 Annual Report

Annual Report for the Year Ending March 31, 2023

MKO Family Law Template

What is the MKO Family First Nation 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 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 political advocacy and technical support to the MKO leadership and communities in child welfare.

Key Functions

  • Providing political advocacy and technical support to the MKO leadership
  • Providing tecchnical 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

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 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 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, came into effect.  The federal Act enables Indigenous communities to develop their own laws for child and family services.

MKO Family Law Template

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 use and customize if they choose.  The Secretariat has been working with Mack Law Corp. in developing the draft MKO Family Law Template.

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 Secretariat is available to support and assist MKO First Nations in developing child welfare laws at their request.

The Vision of MKO Child and Family 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.

Annual Reports

2022 Annual Report Documents

Annual Report for the Year Ending March 31, 2022.

2021 Annual Report Documents

Annual Report for the Year Ending March 31, 2021.

2020 Annual Report Documents

Annual Report for the Year Ending March 31, 2020.