Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Child Welfare Initiative
Link to Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Link to Manitoba Metis Federation Link to Manitoba Keewatinow Okimakinak Link to Province of Manitoba

The New Vision

The Manitoba Metis Federation, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Province of Manitoba have worked together to find ways to improve Manitoba's child and family services system. It was agreed that the new system will recognize cultural differences and Aboriginal people will provide child and family services to their people throughout the Province. Manitoba is the first province to give Aboriginal peoples province-wide responsibility for child and family services.

What do you think?

This booklet outlines the proposed changes that will make this new system possible. We want to know what people think about the changes so a series of public meetings will be held where people can talk about these changes.

The New System

Under the new system, Aboriginal children and families, no matter where they live in Manitoba, will receive child and family services from Aboriginal agencies. These agencies will now be able to provide services that better reflect the cultural needs of children and families.

Helping to solve problems before they start will be the main focus throughout the new system. Services will be provided to help keep children within their families and communities.

Foster parents will still play an important role in the new system. More Aboriginal families are encouraged to work with the new system as foster parents.


The child and family services system is very important in Manitoba. Its job is to protect children at risk of abuse or neglect. It also helps families, especially those having trouble taking care of their children.

In 1988, the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (AJI) started to look at the relationship between the Aboriginal peoples of Manitoba and the justice system. Part of the AJI looked at how Aboriginal people were treated by the child and family services system over the years.

The AJI said good work was being done in serving the child and family service needs of people living in on-reserve communities. The work was being done by on-reserve First Nations agencies but these agencies were not allowed to serve people off-reserve. Aboriginal children and families living off-reserve received services from the non-Aboriginal child and family service agencies.
Child Welfare

The AJI report of 1991 said the non-Aboriginal system did not serve Aboriginal peoples well. It recommended that some changes be made:

  • Open the Office of the Child Protector to make sure children's best interests are always put first.
  • Give Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal child and family services agencies enough resources to provide a full range of services under The Child and Family Services Act.
  • Make sure that the federal and provincial governments give enough resources to Aboriginal agencies to help them serve Aboriginal peoples well.
  • Change laws to officially establish the new system.
  • Set up a mandated province-wide Metis agency.
  • Enable existing on-reserve agencies to serve First Nation peoples living off reserve.
  • Set up an Aboriginal child and family services agency in Winnipeg to serve Aboriginal children and families.

Acting on AJI Recommendations

In 1999, the provincial government introduced the Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission (AJIC).

It recommended that the Provincial Government sign an agreement with the First Nations and Metis political leadership to develop a plan for Aboriginal agencies to serve Aboriginal peoples.

The AJI-CWI Process

The Province, the First Nations and Metis leaders signed agreements which led to the creation of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry - Child Welfare Initiative (AJI-CWI).

The AJI-CWI set up committees to develop a plan to change the child and family services system in Manitoba. The committees have members representing the Provincial Government, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Manitoba Metis Federation and the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.

The process has five phases. Phase 1 and 2 are completed. In Phase 3, following public feedback, a more detailed plan will be developed. During Phases 4 and 5, beginning in January 2002, changes will be implemented. All phases will be finished by October 2003.

Design Principles

A number of principles were set out to guide what the new system would look like.

A New Way

The new child and family services system will change the way the Provincial Government and Aboriginal peoples work together in providing child and family services. There will be more sharing of duties in this important service area.

The Minister of Family Services and Housing will give responsibility for the management of service to First Nations (on- and off-reserve) and Metis children and families to the four new authorities.

The Authorities will mandate and fund child and family services agencies.


Under the new system, the Province of Manitoba will be responsible for setting laws, policies and standards for the new system. The Province will work together with the system in providing services. The Province will also approve and provide funding to the Authorities and will serve as the final level of appeal in certain matters.

Under the new system, the Authorities will design and manage the delivery of child and family services throughout the province, assist in setting standards and provide funding to agencies which qualify to deliver services.

Under the new system, the Agencies will work together with the Authorities and the Province of Manitoba in delivering child and family services.


The main objectives of the new system are to protect children, ensure their well being, and strengthen families and communities through culturally appropriate supports and services.

Range of Services

The agencies will be responsible for the design and delivery of services that support families and communities and protect children.

System Coordination

All four Authorities and their agencies will be serving the needs of people across the province at the same time. The system must work together to make sure people receive service in a timely and efficient way, leaving no child at risk.

Who Do I Call For Service?

People in need of child and family services will call a toll-free number.

The new system will ensure no child is left at risk.

Who Will Provide Services?

People needing child and family services will be directed to the Authority with which they most closely identify, based on their culture.

Supporting the New System

Centralized Supports will help the system work smoothly and efficiently. These include:

  • Executive Support Unit staff will make sure the Province of Manitoba's role is fulfilled in the new system. It will ensure that standards are followed throughout the new system.
  • Computer Systems will be put in place to make sure the Authorities and the agencies can share information and communicate. The systems used will ensure confidentiality.
  • One of the key parts of the new system is common registries of information about children in care, prior contact, child abuse, adoption and post-adoption.

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee, with members from the Authorities and the Province, will help all parts of the system to work together for the benefit of Manitoba children and families.

Leadership Council

The Leadership Council will provide a place for political leaders from First Nations, Metis and the Provincial Government to discuss issues.


The change from the old system to the new system will need careful planning to ensure that it is as smooth as possible.


The current system is governed by The Child and Family Services Act and The Adoption Act. These laws will be changed to reflect the new system.

Transferring Services

The change from the old system to the new system will be done in stages, as agencies become ready. Transfers will begin in January 2002 and be completed by October 2003.


The new system will mean changes to the present workforce. At first, to assist with case transfers, employees from the non-Aboriginal child and family services system will be loaned to the Aboriginal agencies. As more Aboriginal people are trained and are ready to be hired, the loaned employees will be offered reasonable employment in other areas.

Funding the New System

The new system will have a different way of funding which will be in place by October 2003.

The existing funds and resources will be transferred to the new Authorities. In turn, the Authorities will give funding and resources to the agencies.

Start up funding will be required.

Residential Care

As the changes are being implemented, the Province, First Nations and Metis will develop new ways of working together with residential care providers.


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