atIn a case involving a 6-year-old Indigenous child in need of protection, an appeal judge has stayed a Superior Court decision to remove the child from the care of a family pending final determination on appeal.
In M.L. and. D.L. v. Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, Dilico Anishinabek Family Care placed a child in the applicants care eight days following the child’s birth. Dilico planned to terminate the placement so the child could be with her mother’s family at Berens River First Nation in Manitoba.
Court of Appeal Justice David Paciocco wrote that the appeal will raise important questions about the proper evaluation of best interests in the placement of Indigenous children who have been apprehended and will invite close consideration of the effect of out-of-court customary care agreements.
Dilico says its decision serves the child’s best interests by preserving her links to her Indigenous culture, family, and community. However, the appellant argued that it is in the child’s best interests that she remains in their care. Accordingly, they launched a custody application pursuant to the Children’s Law Reform Act.
Jessica Gagné, the lawyer for the appellants M.L. and. D.L, says this case is about who can decide what’s in the child’s best interests.
“My clients want a court to decide what is in her best interest. So, it all really comes down to is the determination of the child’s best interest a matter for the first First Nation to decide outside of the core process? Or is the child entitled to have a neutral independent decision maker decide what is in her best interest?”