By The Tripartitie First Nations Children and Families Working Group
Last week’s meeting in Ottawa to address the urgency around the over-representation of Indigenous children and youth in care highlighted that we are on the right path in British Columbia.
We, the members of the Tripartite First Nations Children and Families Working Group (comprised of Indigenous Services Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit and Union of BC Indian Chiefs), are already making significant progress on a number of areas identified in the federal government’s recent commitment to action on Indigenous child and family services reform.
Last week, we attended the meeting in Ottawa and were encouraged by the overarching desire to honour and respect Indigenous peoples’ right to care for their children. Through this working group of federal and provincial governments, and the First Nations Leadership Council, we have been exploring systemic changes to British Columbia’s child-welfare system, including Indigenous governance and jurisdiction. We’ve already started. In early 2017, the Wet’suwet’en Nation and the Province of B.C. signed a landmark agreement to reclaim jurisdiction for child welfare services in accordance with their traditional laws and governance systems.
Our working group met again following the meeting in Ottawa and we recognize that with the Government of Canada’s commitment to action, we now have an opportunity to move faster on some of the changes we have been exploring. For example, we want to help Indigenous community partner’s access resources to support their goals of self-governance.
Our commitment to meaningful, active and long last reconciliation is clear. The Government of Canada’s promise to do more only strengthens our resolve and will allow us to push harder and faster on the work we have already begun.