PHOTO: Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller and Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu are looking for direction from Canada's top court on Indigenous child welfare. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
The federal government is pursuing an appeal at Canada’s highest court over the constitutionality of its landmark Indigenous child welfare legislation.
The move comes after the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled last month that parts of C-92 are unconstitutional.
In a statement, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu, Justice Minister David Lametti and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said they take issue with the court’s conclusion that sections 21 and 22(3) of the act are invalid.
Those sections allow Indigenous child welfare laws to override provincial laws where they conflict.
“The Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision raises important questions regarding how communities can implement their jurisdiction over child and family services without being unduly impeded by provincial laws,” they said.
“We look forward to the Supreme Court of Canada’s direction on the best approach to ensuring that Indigenous communities can effectively exercise their jurisdiction, unencumbered by conflicting laws.”
C-92 overhauls the way First Nations, Inuit and Métis children are to be treated in the Indigenous child welfare system.
It states, for example, that when looking to place kids in foster care, authorities are to prioritize extended family and home communities.
The law also allows communities to create their own foster care laws, which are to take effect after the federal government receives a year’s notice.
The Quebec government referred the legislation to Quebec’s highest court as a constitutional question.
Although the Quebec Court of Appeal found parts of the legislation problematic, it became the first court to recognize that Indigenous Peoples have a constitutionally-protected right of self-government — an aspect of the decision the federal ministers applauded.
Olivia Stefanovich is a senior reporter for CBC’s Parliamentary Bureau based in Ottawa. She previously worked in Toronto, Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter at @CBCOlivia. Story tips welcome: email@example.com.