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Social Work Webinar: The Maw-Kleyu’kik Knijannaq Initiative

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A workshop to develop social workers' knowledge of the inherent jurisdiction of the Mi’kmaw of Nova Scotia over child welfare

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The Inherent Jurisdiction of Indigenous Nations over Child Welfare: Exploring the Maw-Kleyu’kik Knijannaq (Keeping our children together) Initiative in Nova Scotia.

Both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called upon all governments to recognize Indigenous self-determination and inherent jurisdiction over child welfare.

In Nova Scotia, despite calls from the TRC, the province of Nova Scotia proposed their initial amendments to the Children and Family Services Act without input from and proper consultation with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs. When that did take place, over 25 amendments were made to the Children and Family Services Act that impact the Mi’kmaq.

In response to the 2017 Children and Family Services Act amendments, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs created the Maw-Kleyu’kik Knijannaq (MKK) Initiative. The MKK Initiative aims to bring together leadership, organizations, stakeholders, and community service providers in a coordinated manner, to work collaboratively to create a better future for Mi’kmaw children and families; a future where Mi’kmaw children are resilient, strongly connected to their culture and community while living in safe, healthy and nurturing homes.

The goal of this workshop is for social workers to learn about the MKK, and how the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative has been engaged in a collaborative approach to the development and implementation of a child welfare system that places the child, with their family, in the center and promotes healing and wellness in a manner that respects Mi’kmaw values, customs, traditions and practices.

The workshop will:

  • Identify the roots of the MKK Initiative and why and how it was formed.
  • Demonstrate the process and the principles being utilized towards the development and implementation of a child welfare system that respects our Mi’kmaw values, customs, traditions and practices.
  • Develop a clear understanding of the inherent jurisdiction of the Mi’kmaw of Nova Scotia over child welfare.

Workshop presenters

Jacklyn Paul, BSW, SWC

Jacklyn is a member of Sipekne’katik First Nation. Jacklyn joined Kwilmu’kw Maw-Klusuaqn (KMK, Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative) in January 2019 as a policy analyst, and has since been promoted to project coordinator for the Maw-Kleyu’kik Knijannaq (Keeping Our Children Together) Initiative. Prior to joining KMK, Jacklyn worked for Mi’kmaq Family and Children Services of Nova Scotia.

In 2020, Jacklyn completed a Bachelor of Social Work degree at St. Thomas University. She also has a Bachelor of Arts from Cape Breton University with a major in Indigenous studies, and a minor in philosophy.

Jacklyn is a traditional woman who proudly walks the red road with her husband, Eldon, where they are raising their three daughters in Sipekne’katik First Nation.

Heather McNeill, BA, LLB, QC

Heather is the legal advisor to the Maw-Kleyu’kik Knijannaq Initiative. She is a member of Millbrook First Nation, a mother, grandmother and wife. She is a practicing lawyer of 25 years, and for over 21 of those years she was a staff lawyer at Dalhousie Legal Aid Service practicing primarily in the areas of child protection, family and youth criminal law, representing many Mi’kmaq, Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients. Prior to her legal career, Heather worked for a decade as a registered nurse in Halifax working in intensive care for much of that time. Heather retired from Dalhousie Legal Aid Service and took the position of legal advisor for the MKK Initiative in September 2018. She is very honoured to be doing this ground-breaking work on behalf of all Mi’kmaq children, youth, families and communities in Nova Scotia.

Heather has been a member of many boards, committees, organizations, groups and task forces where she brings a Mi’kmaw lens to the discussions and issues. Heather has also been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards throughout her nursing and legal career.

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