Grand Chief Ed John served as minister of children and family development in the former NDP government

B.C. to move child protection back to indigenous communities

Grand Chief Ed John gives recommendations to Premier Chriisty Clark, who promises more resources and local control

The B.C. government is renewing efforts to keep aboriginal children in their home communities when they are removed from their parents.

The approach has long been a government goal, and was called for again this week when Grand Chief Ed John presented a report he was asked to do by Premier Christy Clark. John’s 85 recommendations centre around keeping families and communities intact and giving them more support to take care of children without them being placed in foster homes or group homes.

Both Clark and John noted that aboriginal children are 15 times more likely to be apprehended and placed in government care than non-aboriginal children. Clark said the number is in decline, but is not being reduced as quickly for aboriginal children.

Clark said the transition will take a substantial new financial commitment from the province and the federal government, to recruit more aboriginal social workers and locate them in the communities they serve and to improve services.

“We need indigenous wisdom from indigenous leaders to solve this problem,” Clark said.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development has struggled to maintain staffing and services in remote communities, and delegated agencies have had their own problems.

Outgoing Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has issued investigation reports on cases such as that of Alex Gervais, an 18-year-old who fell to his death in September 2015 from a fourth-floor hotel room in Abbotsford. The ministry had moved him there after the group home he was in, run by a delegated aboriginal child welfare agency, was shut down due to inadequate conditions.

Turpel-Lafond said earlier this month there remain 10 ministry child protection offices operating with emergency staff, allowing little continuity on cases. She said the waiting time for youth mental health treatment continues to be up to two years, and delays have meant more severe cases that end in injury or death.

Stephanie Cadieux, minister of children and family development, said work is well underway on the recommendations in John’s report, but it will take time and money to transfer child welfare services back to communities.

Aboriginal and Métis community agencies must have the same financial support as government agencies to perform child protection services, Cadieux said.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Column: One parenting book certainly doesn’t fit all

Like the fingerprints they are born with – each child is different.… Continue reading

Ryga Arts Festival to include virtual and in-person events

Arts festival in Summerland will run from Aug. 15 to 23

Okanagan and Shuswap MPs want federal funds to help stop invasive species

Concerns raised that spending favours Eastern Canada.

Summerland Ornamental Gardens remain closed

Staff and volunteers continue to weed and maintain plants

Canada’s deficit result of investing in Canadians: Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity

Minister Mona Fortier said the government is working on the next steps as the economy restarts

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Summerland Blossom Youth Ambassador Program to hold coronation

Event will be held by video as a result of COVID-19 precautions

Vernon shutterbugs capture rainbow

A rain event July 9 made way for a glorious sight

Most Read