Akwesasne Representative and Advocacy Program
The Akwesasne Representative (often referred to as the Band Representative under Part 4 of the Child and Youth Family Services Act) acts on behalf of Akwesasne Band Members as a party in court proceedings involving First Nation’s Children. We guide our families through legal matters and ensure that customary care is the first option for families involved with any child welfare agency.
Our mandate is to make culture the focus when determining what spiritual principles are followed when advocating for our children. We always work toward the best interest of the children, which means prioritizing keeping them in their home community.
It is your right to have an Akwesasne Representative consult on any protection proceedings involving children who are band members, or who are entitled to have band membership.
We work in collaboration with Child and Family Services Canada and the children’s legal counsel, as well as act as a liaison with other government and child welfare agencies. However, if the case is specific to Family Law or Criminal Law, an Akwesasne Representative cannot intervene.
- The child’s best interest is always the first priority;
- Contact between children and their family is of the utmost importance;
- The long-term health of our community depends on our children and on the decolonization of child welfare services;
- Protecting the child’s connection to their Indigenous culture and heritage is vital.
Responsibilities of a Representative
- To put forward the Band’s position in child welfare matters, promoting our spiritual vision and values;
- To receive notification and information about each referral and ongoing services;
- To respond to court applications and participate in court proceedings;
- To assist with and/or ensure that proper documentation and registrations are completed for the child and youth;
- To ensure that family members are fully aware of their rights, and to link/refer them to a range of various culturally appropriate services;
- To provide information and guidance to parents on legal proceedings and referrals;
- To attend meetings related to the planning of the child or youth’s welfare (such as circles or case conferences);
- To educate and orient government and child welfare agency staff regarding the Akwesasne First Nation community, culture, and practices;
- To advocate with child welfare agencies on behalf of children, youth, and families.
NOTE: The Representative cannot represent parents in court. The parents are recommended to have their own legal counsel in court to represent them.
If you have been contacted by a child welfare agency concerning your child, do the following:
- Document what the call or visit relates to, along with the date and time.
- Call your Akwesasne Representative.
- Contact legal aid immediately for a lawyer to assist with the child welfare matter.
- Request a schedule of all visits that will occur between your family and the child welfare agency worker.
- Document everything that takes place between the worker and your family during the meetings.
It is your right to have an Akwesasne Representative present during such visits, whether you live in or out of Akwesasne.
55 Water Street
Kim Herne, Program Manager
613-575-5000 ext. 1351/2410