First Nations child and family services: whither self-governance?


University of British Columbia

Date Issued


Document Type



Master of Laws - LLM




This thesis argues that despite political promises and rhetoric to the contrary the federal and provincial governments maintain through their policies, legislation, and regulations the continued assimilation of First Nations; under the guise of supporting First Nations attempts to resume governance over child and family services. It is my assertion that governments both federal, provincial and First Nations need to begin a process and transition towards self-governance in child and family services based on our traditional laws and practices, in order to ensure the continued survival of our nations. I have set out a number of preliminary options for assisting in the process of decolonization in the area of child welfare. This thesis is written from my perspective as a First Nations woman engaged in the practice of law in the area of First Nations child and family services. A perspective which is inspired by the political work of my relations in the advancement of Aboriginal rights and title in British Columbia. In chapter one I discuss the impact of colonization on First Nations children, families, communities and governments and conclude that the state (federal and provincial governments), far from promoting First Nations child welfare, have served to create enormous despair, poverty, dependency, and an erosion of First Nations cultures, languages, and governance. This chapter ends with a discussion of First Nations values, practices and traditions in relation to child rearing and "child protection. Chapter two examines the recent changes to child and family service delivery in British Columbia , changes which effectively continue the process of assimilation. Chapter three examines the current delegated model of First Nations child and family services in British Columbia. I argue that the delegated model is premised on assimilation, in that First Nations are bound to comply with the very legislative and administrative models that were illustrated in chapters one and two to have had such a devastating impact on First Nations children, families, communities and governments. Finally, the fourth chapter provides an overview of the federal and provincial constitutional framework and political "support" for self-government juxtaposed against First Nations' perspectives of their inherent right to self-government. In conclusion I propose a number of interim measures that would support First Nations resumption of self-government of child and family services . It is extremely important, in my opinion, that a process and transition towards true self-governance begin as soon as possible building upon First Nations community values and cultural practices.


Child welfare -- British Columbia; Child welfare -- Canada; Indian children -- British Columbia; Indians of North America -- Canada -- Self-government

Geographic Location

British Columbia

Date Available



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