Alberta First Nation signs two-year agreement with Ottawa to administer its own child welfare

An Alberta First Nation has signed a two-year agreement with Ottawa giving it the autonomy to administer its child welfare.

Louis Bull Tribe at Maskwacis, Alta., about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton, is the first in the province to sign onto an agreement.

The First Nation says it’s a bilateral agreement with the federal government and does not involve the province.

Last year, Louis Bull’s child welfare organization said Alberta wasn’t co-operating and didn’t want to sign the agreement.

The provincial government has not responded to a request for comment on the signing.

Ottawa passed legislation in 2020 with a focus on prevention so families can receive support to remain together.

It allows First Nations to bypass co-ordination agreements with provincial governments if no consensus is met one year after a request.

Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan was the first to sign an agreement in 2021. Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in Ontario and Peguis First Nation in Manitoba have also signed agreements with Ottawa and their provincial governments.

Dozens of other First Nations across the country are waiting for agreements.

“This is an important day for Louis Bull Tribe,” Chief Desmond Bull said during the signing on Wednesday.

“Our children are sacred. This law seeks to bring them home.

“Although this is only a two-year agreement, it gives us the base and the foundation for us to look forward to developing something stronger, something more permanent, something that will allow that bilateral agreement to continue.”

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