THUNDER BAY -- Nishnawbe Aski Nation leaders are welcoming a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision involving jurisdiction over children, but say the federal government needs to do more.
This week, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal launched by the government of Quebec regarding Bill C-92, or An Act Respecting First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children, youth and families.
The Trudeau government enacted the law in January 2020, which affirms Indigenous jurisdiction over child and family services.
The Quebec government filed an appeal, arguing the federal government infringed on provincial jurisdiction.
But the Supreme Court disagreed, saying the federal government was within its jurisdiction and recognized Indigenous rights under the constitution.
“This decision confirms what NAN First Nations have always known – our children are our jurisdiction, wherever they may reside,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse in a statement issued on Friday.
“This decision means the federal and provincial governments will have to accept and respect our laws when it comes to our children, youth and families. Today is a good day for Indigenous sovereignty and all First Nations who are developing and asserting their own child welfare laws.”
NAN served as an intervenor in the case where it argued “reconciliation requires accepting and respecting the inherent authority of Indigenous Peoples,” as First Nations define it.
And while Narcisse is welcoming the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Act, he said the federal government needs to do more.
“The Act and this decision are positive steps forward, but our communities also need the guaranteed funding required to exercise our jurisdiction, which the Act does not provide,” he said.
“There is still a long road ahead to ensure that settler governments accept and respect Indigenous laws in all areas. Our inherent right of self-government is broad, just as broad as the Crown’s, and it includes jurisdiction over many particular areas.”
Narcisse added that NAN looks forward to hearing from the federal government and the Supreme Court on these matters as well.