Status: Ordered referred to Standing Committee

Summary: This Act was created to serve as a guiding principle for decisions affecting children. Triggered by a tragic event where a seven-year-old, Katelynn Sampson, died after being brutally abused over many months by her legal guardians, the Bill set out guiding principles to direct decisions concerning children.

The jury in the coroner’s inquest into the death of Katelynn Sampson put forth  173 recommendations that would mitigate risks to children and prevent similar situations in the future. The first recommendation, referred to as Katelynn’s Principle, places children at the centre of decisions affecting them. The jury requested that all parties to the Coroner’s Inquest ensure that Katelynn’s Principle apply to all services, policies, legislation and decision-making affecting children.

The Act itself makes no explicit indication as to how Indigenous children and communities may be protected or be affected by this change, but the 173 recommendations from the inquest to Katelynn’s death made substantive recommendations for what should be included in legislation. Specifically, among the other recommendations, this section particularly addresses the process of protection of “the Native Child” start from #103 to #134 (starting from page 14 of 23). One theme in these recommendations was the need for training regarding Indigenous culture and the specific needs of Indigenous communities, as this training is necessary to make child-centric decisions.

Katelynn’s Principle outlines the following:

  1. The child must be at the centre of the decision.
  2. The child is an individual with rights. The child must always be seen, the child’s voice must be heard, and the child must be listened to and respected.
  3. The child’s heritage must be taken into consideration and respected. Attention must be paid to the broad and diverse communities the child identifies with, including communities defined by matters such as race, ethnicity, religion, language, and sexual orientation.
  4. Actions must be taken to ensure that a child who is capable of forming their own views is able to express those views freely and safely about matters affecting them.
  5. The child’s views must be given due weight in accordance with the child’s age and maturity.
  6. In accordance with the child’s age and maturity, the child must be given the opportunity to participate before any decisions affecting the child are made, whether the participation is direct or through a support person or representative.
  7. In accordance with the child’s age and maturity, the child must be engaged through honest and respectful dialogue about how and why decisions affecting them are made.
  8. Every person who provides services to children or services affecting children is a child advocate. Advocacy may be a child’s lifeline and it must occur from the point of first contact and on a continuous basis thereafter.

Full text of the Act can be found here.

Full text of the unofficial list of 173 recommendations can be found here.