The federal government has launched a call for proposals from Indigenous governments, people and groups looking to develop their own child and family services policies and legislation.
Marc Miller, minister of Indigenous Services Canada, said on Wednesday funding is available to support Indigenous-led models for jurisdiction over child and family services.
The funding is also available for groups to develop legislation, systems and programs before they begin discussions with federal and provincial or territorial governments.
“This funding is key to better supporting Indigenous communities in preparing to exercise jurisdiction in relation to their child and family services, as they are best-placed to choose models that reflect their values and traditions,” Miller said in a statement.
In January 2020, the federal Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families came into force. It allows Indigenous communities and groups to develop their own child and family policies and laws, with the aim of reducing the number of Indigenous children in care and keeping them connected to their families, communities and culture.
The Canadian government says it has committed more than $540 million over five years to support implementation of the bill.
The current funding can support activities like community self-assessment, engagement, planning, research, program development, drafting of legislation and policies, communications, expert consultation, and IT systems design.
The deadline to submit proposals is May 28.
In March, NWT social services minister Julie Green said she had reached out to all Indigenous governments about the federal bill. She said two Indigenous governments in the territory had indicated they were interested in developing their own child and family services laws.
According to the NWT child and family services system’s 2019-20 annual report, of 1,239 children and youth who received prevention or protection services in the NWT, 98 percent were Indigenous.