Sioux Valley Dakota Nation one step closer to its own CFS laws

Another First Nation in Manitoba is one step closer to having its own child and family services (CFS) legislation.

The Sioux Valley Dakota Nation’s community agency Dakota Tiwahe Services is officially mandated as a CFS agency by the provincial government.

Under the provincial mandate, Dakota Tiwahe Services will provide CFS services to Sioux Valley members and families both on and off-reserve across Manitoba.

“We’re fusing our programs and services with culture, language, protocols that are unique to the Dakota people,” said Carol McKay-Whitecloud, director of Dakota Tiwahe Services. “We are very unique in that we have never signed a treaty, we have a history where we came from the US, so just understanding our history, our trauma and getting back to the basics, the value systems, the way we used to look after one another.

“Then just re-learning and reclaiming our culture and language, that’s vital because we truly believe that our culture is what’s going to save us and it’s prevention.”

Chief Jennifer Bone said while the mandate is temporary, it gives the community jurisdiction where it is needed.

“Our work is not finished as this is an interim provincial mandate for Sioux Valley, we know that it is responsible and prudent to work with the provincial entities while our law and system is being developed,” said Bone.

“Sioux Valley Dakota Nation is uniquely positioned. Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has jurisdiction in relation to the care, protection and guardianship of any child on Sioux Valley Dakota Nation lands.”

The community’s next step is to negotiate with the federal government to enact their own CFS laws and legislation, much like Peguis First Nation did so in 2021.

“The next step is to enact our Dakota law and we will be using Bill C-92 approach as a segway to that. The law is in draft form, we will be negotiating with Canada now, we’re going to enter into a coordination agreement with them, that is the next step,” said McKay-Whitecloud.

“And then we’re also harmonizing our self-government as well. So, all of those will become our CFS law in the community. Once we achieve that through ratification in the community, we will have jurisdiction right across Canada.”

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation is hopeful they can enact their own laws sometime in the next year or so as negotiations with Canada continue.

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