Young Aboriginal people across Canada and in Ontario are entering residential care at alarming rates. The very term “residential care” echoes the destructive history of forced placement of First Nations, Métis and Inuit young people in residential schools. Aboriginal communities have been advocating for a much wider range of out-of-home care options, in particular ones that recognize traditional extended family and community care practices. Communities have also been advocating for interventions and programs that will reduce the need for out-of-home placements, both with respect to more services for young people and their families and programs addressing the socio-economic conditions that undermine the well-being of Aboriginal families. The recent Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT 2016) ruling confirms that the overrepresentation of First Nations children and youth in child welfare out-of-home care is at least in part a result of discriminatory Federal policies that have led to the underfunding of these types of family and community based prevention services.

While many of the issues identified through our review have significant implications for Aboriginal youth, families and communities, the Panel recognizes that a fuller engagement and partnership process specific to First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth placed in out-of-home care is required. This Chapter discusses the issues specific to Aboriginal communities that arose during our consultations. We heard from a number of Aboriginal youth and services providers about the critical importance of developing policies and services in partnership with Aboriginal people that will address the unique needs of these youth and their communities.