First Nation in the province says Alberta is preventing them from taking control of child welfare

Darin Keewatin is pictured in Edmonton on Tuesday January 4, 2022. Keewatin is concerned about Bill C-92, the federal Indigenous child welfare legislation (The Canadian Press/Jason Franson).

Keewatin said he's not convinced the federal legislation has been successful, given the ongoing pushback from Alberta.

A First Nation in Alberta says it's been nearly three months since it was supposed to take legal control of it's own child welfare, however the provincial government won't recognize the arrangement made possible by federal legislation.

Darin Keewatin, executive director of Asikiw Mostos O'pikinawasiwin Society, a child welfare organization for the Louis Bull Tribe says Alberta won't recognize it at all or sign coordination agreements.

The tribe asked to enter an agreement with Alberta and Canada in October 2020 under a federal law that was proposed in Bill C-92 and was enacted the previous year. This allows First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities to have jurisdiction over child and family services.

Louis Bull Tribe's law came into effect in October, but Keewatin said Alberta is not co-operating. 

Keewatin says “As soon as a tribe steps up to take responsibility and case manage their children, suddenly the ministry is saying, 'Oh no, That's not going to happen."

Keewatin wouldn't speculated on the province's concerns, but said Indigenous children are overrepresented in Alberta's child-welfare system.

71 per cent of children and youth receiving services in care were Indigenous despite only making up 10 per cent of the child population in Alberta.


*This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2022.*

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