Prior to colonization, Indigenous communities and families had well-established systems of childcare and education rooted in the community, natural environment and spiritual teachings. These systems promoted safety and well-being for children and youth. In 1951, revisions to the Indian Act granted provincial child welfare agencies legal authority on reserves. This led to Indigenous children being taken into government care at a staggering rate.
These forcible removals into mainly non-Indigenous households have created a multitude of social and economic effects, including, and not limited to, youth homelessness, mental health issues and addiction, poverty, and loss of language and culture.
The Government of Canada has since formally apologized for their involvement in the residential school system. The Manitoba Government and Alberta Government are the only governments in Canada to have apologized for their participation in the 60’s Scoop. However, Indigenous children in Canada are still being removed from their families and communities at an alarming rate. There are currently more Indigenous children in the child welfare system than at the height of the residential school system, a phenomenon known as the “Millennium Scoop”.
In January 2019, The Native Women’s Association of Canada hosted a national conference on child and family services in conjunction with the new departments Indigenous Services Canada, and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. Service providers, government employees, representatives from Indigenous organizations and other participants from across Canada joined NWAC and Ministers Bennett and Philpott to discuss the current emergency state of child and family services for Indigenous families.