CBHSSJB Welcomes Bill on Customary Adoption

Ehintowutinaaschuut

November 23, 2016
Kenneth Cheezo stained glass installation Eastmain CMC

UPDATE: On November 22, 2016, Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come, James Bobbish (former Chairperson of the CBHSSJB), Bella Moses Petawabano (current Chairperson of the CBHSSJB), and legal counsel Matthew Sherrard, delivered statements and answered questions at the public hearings on Bill 113 at the Quebec National Assembly. 

October 6, 2106 in Québec City, representatives of the Cree Nation Government, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the CBHSSJB, including its Chairperson were present at the National Assembly to witness the tabling of legislation that proposes, among other things, to have the legal effects of customary adoptions clearly reflected in the Civil Code of Québec.

Customary adoption is an integral part of Cree culture and identity. The CBHSSJB, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and Cree Nation Government helped to advance legislators’ understanding of Aboriginal customary adoption as members of the Working Group on Customary Adoption in Aboriginal Communities, alongside other First Nations and Inuit organizations. This process was then continued through on-going collaboration with representatives of the Government of Quebec and other Indigenous organizations in the development of Bill 113, as had been the case for similar bills that had been tabled in recent years, but had “died on the order paper” with the calling of the elections in 2012 and 2014.

Speaking at a press conference after the tabling of Bill 113, CBHSSJB Chair Bella M. Petawabano first thanked the people of the Huron-Wendat Nation for receiving the Cree delegation in their territory. She applauded the introduction of this important legislation and the collaborative approach that led to this milestone. “Along with other First Nations,” she said, “the Cree have sought changes to provincial laws regarding legal effects of customary adoption since at least the 1980s. For almost as long, Québec has committed to doing so in the Civil Code of Québec. Now, with this bill, the Québec government is taking an important step to fulfill that commitment.”

James Bobbish, the former Chairperson of the CBHSSJB, was a longstanding champion of these changes to the laws of Québec and a member of the Working Group on Customary Adoption. He has also been involved in the collaborative processes with the Government of Quebec and other Indigenous organizations in the development of Bill 113, as was the case for the bills that had been introduced previously.

If adopted into law, the proposed changes to the Civil Code will benefit Indigenous children and families involved in customary adoptions for generations to come.

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