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

City of Port Alberni approves five-storey expansion at Tsawaayuus-Rainbow Gardens

Neighbours voice concern about traffic, loss of green space in wake of decision

Wounded Warriors runners arrive in Port Alberni

Fundraising dinner will take place at Royal Canadian Legion

Arrowvale Farm near Port Alberni hosts maple syrup fest

Taste west coast maple syrup on Leap Year Saturday and watch demonstrations too

ACRD urges B.C. gov’t to upgrade Bamfield Road in wake of winter storm

ACRD board to write letter to Premier John Horgan, expressing urgency

More businesses in Port Alberni need a voice at city council, says one Uptown owner

Business owner says all businesses in the Alberni Valley need a louder voice

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Lawyer gets house arrest for possessing child porn

Maple Ridge resident gets nine-month term

Most Read