B.C. proposes legislative changes to give Indigenous communities power over their own child welfare system


Changes coming to provincial laws will clear the way in which for Indigenous communities in B.C. to have jurisdiction over their own youngsters and household providers.

Cowichan Tribes Coun. Stephanie Atleo mentioned the amendments acknowledge the inherent proper of Indigenous nations to shield, look after and nurture member youngsters. 

“These changes symbolize a major step towards reconciliation by recognizing for the final 150 years, the legal guidelines and insurance policies relating to Indigenous youngsters and child welfare have had a extreme influence on Indigenous households, together with our Cowichan households,” mentioned Atleo. “Cowichan Tribes is in the most effective place to shield our kids by means of stabilizing and defending households.”

The modernized laws will assist the precise of Indigenous communities to re-establish, develop and train child-welfare legal guidelines and recreate their own fashions for delivering household assist, child safety and adoption providers.

“We’ve identified for much too lengthy that Indigenous youngsters, youth have been over represented within the child welfare system,” Mitzi Dean, the minister of kids and household improvement (MCFD) informed On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko.

On The Coast11:08MCFD minister outlines changes to Indigenous child and household welfare

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Dean mentioned the changes align with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s name to motion and can assist finish the epidemic of Indigenous youngsters and youth in care.

“The ministry will at all times be there to provide assist, however the nation will likely be exercising jurisdiction and offering the providers that they need to present in accordance to their tradition and their customs and their teachings.”

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip mentioned the laws can’t be handed quickly sufficient.

“The colonial period of the Province controlling child welfare should come to an finish,” he mentioned. “It brings me unbelievable pleasure to take into consideration this alteration in my lifetime and for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

In 2021, a gaggle of of Gitxsan matriarchs, hereditary chiefs and group members blocked social employees from apprehending a six-year-old child.

At the time, Tracey Woods, the elected chief of the Gitanmaax Band described the state of affairs as “no totally different than the residential college or the Sixties Scoop, the place the MCFD is available in and removes the child from household and relocates them to unfamiliar territory.”

Dean says First Nations have been expressing these issues for a “very long time.”

Mary Teegee, chair of the Indigenous Child and Family Services Directors Forum and govt director of Child and Family Services at Carrier Sekani Family Services, mentioned they have been asking for these changes for 20 years.

“We know that the MCFD system has not labored for our kids or households,” she mentioned, including that many Indigenous youngsters within the child welfare system find yourself residing on the streets.

“We’re pleased that there was this motion. However, there’s nonetheless a whole lot of work to be achieved.”

Teegee mentioned the amendments want to be primarily based on substantive equality and self-determination. She described the introduction of the laws as “Phase 1.”

“I do not suppose that if it goes far sufficient to say that our Indigenous legal guidelines can be paramount and can be upheld for all of our residents no matter the place they reside,” she mentioned.

According to the province, B.C. is the primary province in Canada to expressly acknowledge the inherent proper of Indigenous communities to train jurisdiction over child and household providers.

On The Coast6:04Mary Teegee reacts to plans to replace B.C.’s child-welfare legal guidelines

Mary Teegee, chair of the Indigenous Child and Family Services Directors Forum, reacts to the B.C. authorities’s plans to replace provincial child-welfare legal guidelines, paving the way in which for Indigenous individuals to have jurisdiction over child and household providers.


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