The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled Friday against the province of Quebec’s challenge to the constitutionality of the child welfare provisions in the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families in a decision.
The act outlines frameworks and standards nationally for provinces to follow when conducting family services. Section 24 of the Act also provides that if there is a conflict between a provision concerning child or family services in relation to an indigenous group, the views of his or her parent will prevail. Additionally, the Act further establishes and affirms the right of indigenous peoples to self-governance.
The government of Quebec submitted a request to the Quebec Court of Appeal (QCCA) questioning whether or not the Act was within the Canadian Parliament’s power. The QCCA maintained that the majority of the Act was valid except for the provisions that granted indigenous laws and groups priority over provincial laws, thus exceeding federal jurisdiction and “impermissibly altering Canada’s constitutional architecture.”
The SCC disagreed, arguing that it was within parliament’s power, as dictated by section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 which granted the federal government purview over “Indians and land reserved for Indians.” The SCC stated that the incidental effects of the Act on provincial ability to exercise power does not affect its validity and that it properly honors the right of indigenous peoples to self governance granted under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
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