Child Youth & Family Services

Please visit the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal website to view the 2016 Ruling on First Nations Child Welfare Case


Child protection is based on concern for the care of the most vulnerable citizens—children. This concern is expressed through child welfare laws that have been established in each province or territory. First Nations people, however, view child welfare laws, policies, and most practices as oriented to urban families; these are intrusive and culturally inappropriate for First Nations families.

As partial recognition of the First Nations perspective on child welfare policies and practices, Canada—through AANDC’s First Nation Child and Family Services program—provides funding to deliver culturally appropriate child and family services to First Nation children and families on-reserve. On-reserve delivery agents must be authorized under provincial law to carry out child welfare services, and must do so within the legislation and standards of the province.


Innu Leaders and provincial minister sign a new agreement on working together on Child, Youth & Family Services

From left to right: Minister Keith Russell, SIFN Councillor Mary Jane Nui (IRT Sec Board Member), SIFN Chief Eugene Hart, MIFN Chief Greg Rich and Minister Collins.


Although many First Nations CYFS agencies now exist, First Nation communities continue to have the highest rates of child protection cases. Analyses of this reality have suggested that the federal funding formula has been a contributing factor since protection costs have received priority over prevention services. In response, in recent years, AANDC has introduced a new funding model to increase prevention services.

The Innu have sought to establish their own CYFS agency for some time. Since 2009, Innu leadership has insisted that AANDCs new prevention formula should be the basis for funding an Innu agency. Until recently, however, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) has been focusing attention on the new Child Welfare Act and on a complete reorganization of its staff. Only in 2013 did Canada and NL begin to act with Innu and with Mi’kmaq of Conne River to pursue prevention services funding.

CYFS operational issues and efforts towards long-term devolution of CYFS to Innu are standing items on the agenda of the Innu Round Table (IRT). The IRT has led recent efforts to create a properly funded Innu child welfare agency. While CYFS will still be bound by provincial law, even services short of a full agency are expected to include effective prevention services, responsive case plans, and practical work with families to reduce risk. Each step along this path will result in less children coming into care, shorter stays in care, and methods for reuniting families; these are goals that all Innu share.

Documents for Download

Child Welfare League of Canada Report

Innu Prevention Approach

January 20, 2016

Download Report

Innu CYFS Strategy

Innu CYFS Strategy for Change

Child Welfare - Innu Strategy for Change

Download Report

CYFS Project for Change

CYFS Working Relationship *News*

New Initiative December 2015

Download Report

CYFS Working Relationship Agreement

CYFS Working Relationship Agreement

Signed on September 30, 2015

Download Report