CHILD ADVOCACY IN SASKATCHEWAN CHILD WELFARE CASES: ACCESS TO JUSTICE AND INDIGENOUS CHILDREN’S RIGHTS
Patrick, Jamesy Anita 1984-
This thesis sets out to examine the status of implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in Saskatchewan and the CRC’s impacts on Indigenous children and their access to justice within the child welfare system. Research methods included a review of case law, literature and legislation. Informed persons employed in the child welfare field were then interviewed. I argue that Canada’s inadequate implementation of the CRC has devastating impacts on Indigenous children subject to the child welfare system in Saskatchewan. The overrepresentation of Indigenous children in Saskatchewan’s child welfare cases is alarming and is the result of Canada’s colonial history. Representation for children is limited to a Euro-Canadian framework that perpetuates racism and an un-interrogated cultural bias rooted in our understanding of children’s rights as being limited to individual rights. This thesis identifies different models of legal representation adopted by lawyers and justice systems in child welfare cases and offers alternatives to the current model used in Saskatchewan. The current use of lawyers as representatives for Indigenous children raises concerns with respect to availability of counsel and potential bias when advocating for an Indigenous child. This thesis argues that provincial jurisdiction over child welfare is invalid, as Indigenous peoples never ceded child welfare, and that child welfare needs to be deliberately transitioned to Indigenous control. I conclude that rights in the CRC would be better met for Indigenous children if child welfare were deliberately placed back into the hands of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous models of child welfare have greater potential to ensure that meaningful voice for Indigenous children is met and thereby ensures that international obligations under the CRC are fulfilled.
DegreeMaster of Laws (LL.M.)
CommitteePoitras, Marilyn; Carter, Mark; Durst, Douglas; Heavin, Heather
Copyright DateDecember 2016
Indigenous Children, Access to Justice, Child Welfare