Improving child and family services in First Nations communities: Engagement 2016-2017

From Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Current status: Open

The engagement began on October 1, 2016 and will end on August 31, 2017.


Our first priority is the well-being of children. The Government of Canada is committed to taking concrete steps to completely transform the First Nations Child and Family Services program to ensure we are meeting the needs of First Nation children and families.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) wants to hear from you on what is needed to best meet the needs of First Nations children and families on reserve.


Renewing relationships with Indigenous peoples and reforming the First Nations Child and Family Services program to better meet children's needs are top priorities for the Government of Canada. The over-representation of Indigenous children in care is a significant issue across Canada and the Government of Canada is working with partners to change this reality. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report also made a number of calls to action (PDF) in this area.


The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs has appointed Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux as the Minister's Special Representative (MSR). The MSR is holding meetings with partners to discuss promising practices and short and long-term solutions.

INAC is reaching out to hear from:


Discussions with First Nations, service providers and provinces/Yukon have already started. The MSR is also traveling to regions to hear from partners and stakeholders over the next few months.

This engagement will be inclusive and will include:

There are four ways to participate:

  1. Attend a regional or national meeting (by invitation only for service providers, First Nation technical groups and First Nation communities and community members).
  2. Fill out the online survey (now closed). Survey results are currently being analyzed.
  3. Send an email to request a meeting or to share your suggestions about engagement, or on what is needed for the First Nations Child and Family Services program to best meet the needs of children.
  4. Send a letter to the address in the contact us section below.

Related links

Contact us

Child and Family Services Branch
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
10 Wellington, 22nd floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H4

Tel: 1-877-535-7259 (toll-free)
TTY: 1-800-465-7735

Minister's Special Representative

Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux

Minister's Special Representative Child and Family Services
Chippewa of Georgina Island First Nation, Lake Simcoe, Ontario

Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux is the Chair on Truth and Reconciliation at Lakehead University, Thunder Bay and Orillia, and former Vice Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives). She also serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor for the Faculty of Anthropology and as a Research Affiliate of the Centre for Health Care Ethics. A strong Aboriginal issues advocate, her research and academic writing is directed towards understanding the continuing transmission of historic and intergenerational trauma and unresolved grief primarily within the Aboriginal community.

Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux is a Board Member for Healthy Minds Canada and the newly formed Teach for Canada Non-Profit. She also sits as a member of the Governing Council of the National Research Centre at the University of Manitoba, and has been inducted as an Honorary Witness by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux is a former Advisory Member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Lake Simcoe Science Advisory Committee.

Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux grew up in Toronto. She has dedicated her life to building bridges of understanding between all people. Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux co-founded and chairs the Canadian Roots Exchange youth project out of the University of Toronto, the University of Saskatchewan and Lakehead University.

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