Statement on the Creation of the Six Nations Child Welfare Authority

On April 6, 1971 the Six Nations Council of the day passed a resolution to allow the Brant CAS to establish an office on the Six Nations Reserve to deliver child protection services.  On April 3, 2012 the Six Nations Elected Council resolved that a notice be sent to the Brant Children’s Aid Society that the Six Nations Council was moving forward to assume control of Child and Family Services on the Six Nations Territory and that the former Resolution of 1971 would be rescinded.  The Brant CAS was notified that Resolution 8 of April 6, 1971 was rescinded and would take effect on April 1, 2013.  On March 12, 2013 the date to vacate was extended by six (6) months to October 1, 2013.

Therefore, the Brant CAS and their Board of Directors had notice to move their NSB Office off the Territory eighteen (18) months ago.  The unprofessional and disrespectful manner that the Brant CAS is using towards the Haudenausonee Confederacy Council to attempt to override the SNEC Resolution to vacate is being viewed by our lawyers for legal action.  The local media is portraying the impasse as that the SNEC has backed down.  This is patently untrue as the Council is still asking the Brant CAS to honour the Resolution and deliver their mandate from their Brantford Office.

As a result, a letter from the Haudenausonee Development Institute (HDI) purporting to be acting on direction from the Haudenausonee Confederacy Council directed the Brant CAS Board to disregard the SNEC Resolution.  The HDI goes further in directing the Brant CAS Board of Directors to declare that the Haudenausonee Confederacy Council is the legal governing body of the Six Nations of the Grand River territory.

In 2009 the Confederacy Council gave instructions to the Clan Mothers to work with the community to create a Six Nations child welfare organization focused on strengthening families and protection of our children and youth.  This came about as a result of numerous complaints against the Native Services Branch (NSB) actions around child apprehensions under the guise of protection.  Many of the concerns were from extended family of children who were apprehended.  It was requested by extended family members that children be placed with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, but it was reported that the requests were denied by the Brant Children’s Aid Society (BCAS), Native Services Branch (NSB).  As recently as Monday September 30, 2013 there have been reports of CAS/NSB sealing files of families currently in apprehension.

On January 5, 2010 the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) formed a designation working committee with a mandate to work with the Clan Mothers to re-establish responsibility for the protection of our children and youth, and end the involvement of the Brant Children’s Aid Society with our families.   This was a community based working group intended to keep politics out of the work needed to move to designation under Part X of the Ontario Child and Family Services Act.  Two Clan Mothers have been working with the designation working committee as the spoke persons on behalf of the Clan Mothers.

The process of re-establishing the responsibility for children and youth involves five (5) of stages of work as set out in the Ontario First Nation Designation Guidelines.  Stage “A” sought the assessment of community interest and support of the child welfare designation process.  Stage “A” was completed and a report was submitted to the working committee and the Council in March 2012.

Based on the positive results of the community consultation process, the Council then mandated the Social Services Department to submit a proposal to access the funding required to allow us to proceed to Stage “B”, the Capacity Development piece, which entails creating policy and procedures, finance management, program design human resources etc.

Stage “B” work started at the end of July 2012 and continues to date.  It is anticipated that Stage “B” documents will be completed in January 2014.  According to the Six Nations on-line survey, 91% of the on-line participants agreed Six Nations should proceed to Stage “C” of the designation process and establish its own program to deal with children and youth who are being abused and neglected, or at significant risk of being abused or neglected, and have this program designated for this purpose in place of the Brant CAS.

In reference to the Working Committee’s research, approximately 8.4 million or more than a third of the Brant CAS/NSB budget is accounted for the protection and support services provided to Six Nations children and their families who are residents on Six Nations or in Brant County.  More data has to be collected from Haldimand-Norfolk and Hamilton-Wentworth CAS offices to determine the amount of their annual budgets spent protecting Six Nations children and youth in their jurisdictions.

According to the on-line survey, 93% agreed that Six Nations’ protection services program should be held accountable to community structure and design.  It has been recommended by the working committee that a board of twelve (12) positions with two (2) being reserved for persons selected on the basis of their ability to represent Six Nations traditional social structure and cultural heritage.

The community board will assist in the development of O Gwadeni: Deo, to guide the establishment of the Six Nations Child Welfare Authority under Part X of the Ontario CFSA.  Part X of the CFSA is a unique section of the Act which recognizes that native child welfare is the sovereign right and responsibility of the communities and not an Ontario agency answerable only to the provincial government.   O Gwadeni: Deo would assume responsibility for negotiating the designation and negotiate the service agreement with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

The board will hire a Director and set operational policy and procedures and the reporting structure to the Six Nations community.

The Director will oversee staffing of O Gwadeni: Deo, establish relations with other Six Nations established social services programs and other agencies.  The Director will report directly to the O Gwadeni: Deo Board.

The designation working committee originally suggested that a new office be built at a new site, but it was suggested by council that the existing office at the GREAT location be considered due to the shortage of office space at Six Nations.

Currently, the terms of reference for O Gwadeni: Deo have been written, including the criteria for selection, and a board member training manual is complete.   The designation working committee is now seeking the authority to proceed to solicit applications for board positions and the authority to appoint the initial board members.

The child welfare working committee with community input has designed an organization that will operate through a series of support teams, each covering intake/assessment, service planning, service provision to children, youth and their families, referral to other community based organizations and external agencies as required and monitoring roles in relation to service plan completion. A separate alternative care development team would assume responsibility for the roles of recruiting, developing/training and supporting alternative care homes. Each of teams would be accountable through a team manager to a manager of services who would in turn report to the program director.

The organization management team includes a Director, an Assistant Director, a Manager of Finance and Personnel, a Research and Information technology Officer and the needed amount of clerical and support staff.

The next year will be busy as the child welfare working committee implements the O Gwadeni: Deo Board and the Six Nations Child Welfare Authority.

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