Indigenous Customary Adoption: First Nations call for Amendments to Bill 113
Québec, May 26, 2017 – The Atikamekw Nation, the Innu Nation and Québec Native Women decry the refusal of the Government of Québec to incorporate all traditional Indigenous adoption practices into Bill 113. To ensure that this bill will benefit all First Nations communities in Québec, they are calling for amendments to the bill which will be studied by a parliamentary committee on Monday (May 29).
Bill 113, An Act to amend the Civil Code and other legislative provisions as regards adoption and the disclosure of information, proposes an adoption reform that has been expected for several years, particularly by the Indigenous community, which has been demanding the recognition of customary Indigenous adoption for thirty years.
Last November, the Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw (Council of the Atikamekw Nation), Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-Utenam and Québec Native Women submitted briefs to the National Assembly as part of the hearings held by the Committee on Institutions. These briefs drew the attention of the government to the fact that Bill 113, as formulated, would not benefit all Indigenous nations in Québec because it only considers adoptions that create a new parentage, which is not the reality for most First Nations. These organizations also proposed a simple solution that would amend Bill 113 to recognize the forms of adoption practised by the majority of First Nations, including the Innu and Atikamekw, by bringing them in line with a transfer of parental authority or guardianship.
Over the course of the winter, positive discussions to incorporate these proposals into Bill 113 took place with the Ministère de la Justice. There was no indication that significant barriers would prevent their adoption. At the very last minute and without further discussion with the Indigenous groups, the government decided to pass the bill without these amendments, which would make it applicable to all Indigenous nations.
The representatives of the undersigned Indigenous groups and nations deplore this change and demand that Bill 113 be amended to include the forms of adoption they practise, respecting their culture and their values. Constant Awashish, Grand Chief of the Atikamekw Nation, states that “Our proposals reached a consensus. It is unacceptable that they should be disregarded at the very last moment.” Viviane Michel, President of Québec Native Women, says: “Our intention is not to block the bill, but we are asking that all traditional Indigenous adoption practices be recognized, which is not the case in the current bill.” Virginie Michel, councillor for Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-Utenam, states: “The Innu do not recognize themselves in Bill 113 in its current form. It needs to be amended to make it more inclusive.”
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