Peguis First Nation had a monumental milestone celebration this week in securing full rights over their children when it comes to child and family issues. The force of law by the first nation is equal to that of the federal government. Peguis Members to receive child and family services from the Agency wherever they may reside in Canada. 

Other First Nations communities are also moving toward that end. 

Dakota Tipi First Nation Chief Dennis Pashe says they're looking at Bill C-92 which deals with that topic. The Bill C-92 Reference is one of several appeals now before the Supreme Court which engage directly with the relationship between Indigenous Peoples' inherent laws and the jurisdictional authority of federal and provincial governments.

"We've submitted application to develop our own law under that act and to become self-administrating in providing a service to our band members," says Pashe. "One of the problems has been philosophy -- the philosophy of apprehending kids as opposed to trying to heal families, help families get well, and stabilize families. The system seems to fund based on negative statistics and change that statistic to, 'We've helped families stay together and provide support services to do that,' whether it's addictions or mental health services. We have those services here in the community to do that."

Pashe explains more of the process required for such an outcome.

"We're looking at the financial resources that are required and negotiating that," continues Pashe. "The original agreement was made around 1984 or 1985. There was supposed to have been a five-year deal. After that, the First Nations would have their own bylaw or their own federal legislation to have self-administration of program design for child and family services. However, here we are now, how many years later -- 40 years later? So, it's taking that long to realize what was negotiated in the original agreement."

He explains Peguis First Nation has been working on it earlier than others. Dakota Tipi has experienced changes of chief and council, and hasn't focused on the issue, whereas Peguis had the same Chief for a few years and terms giving them that advantage.

"We hope to have it done and finalized this year because we've already drafted our codes, standards and our own law already," adds Pashe. "That's a matter of going through the negotiation process. It strengthens the nation-to-nation relationship that First Nations have with Canada. We're not part of a provincial system, even though they put us under the provincial system. It involves the 1969 White Paper of extermination and termination of Canada's rights or obligations through negotiation to First Nations people. It's part of the reconciliation process of realizing that their system is not working."

Pashe explains the overall issue could include how the justice system is also not working. 

"We have the Aboriginal Injustice Inquiry and, unfortunately, you have so many people in unions depending on First Nations' misery to keep them in jobs, and that status quo is not good enough for us," says Pashe. "We can change that and get people away from negative stats and more into positive outcomes."