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Ministry of Children and Family Development

Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 356-1639


Indigenous Resilience, Connectedness and Reunification –
From Root Causes to Root Solutions

Grand Chief Edward John was contracted in September 2015 as Special Advisor to Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux on Indigenous children in care, Permanency and Early years. Since that time, the Grand Chief has led discussion with First Nations leaders, Delegated Aboriginal Agencies and the ministry throughout B.C., as well as with federal government representatives.

Concluding his mandate, he has produced his final report, Indigenous Resilience, Connectedness and Reunification – From Root Causes to Root Solutions, which provides a detailed analysis of Aboriginal Child Welfare in British Columbia. The report is based on the Grand Chief’s personal experiences meeting with families,  leaders in Indigenous communities and other stakeholders all across the province, as well has his past experiences and understanding of B.C.’s legal and legislative landscape.

In his report, Grand Chief John stresses the need for targeted resources to help build capacity for Indigenous peoples and communities, enabling them to better exercise their inherent rights concerning child and family services. It also points the need to provide stronger, more-sustained support to Indigenous families and parents so that Indigenous children have a better opportunity to remain at home, connected to their family and community.

There are 85 recommendations, with an additional 92 sub recommendations and clarifying statements. The recommendations are divided into ten areas for focused action:

  • Direct Support for Indigenous Children, Parents and Families in all Indigenous Communities
  • Access to Justice and Child and Family Services
  • A New Fiscal Relationship – Investing in Patterns of Connectedness
  • Prevention Services – Keeping Families Connected
  • Re-unification and Permanency Planning
  • Nurturing a Sense of Belonging and Prioritizing Culture and Language – Care Plans as a tool for building connectedness
  • Early Years – Early Investment in Establishing Patterns of Connectedness
  • Indigenous Peoples and Jurisdiction Over Child Welfare
  • The Existing Policy Framework – Shifting Towards Patterns of Connectedness
  • A National Strategy for Indigenous Child Welfare

Recommendations are directed to MCFD, Canada, DAA’s and First Nation leadership, directing all parties to work collectively towards an Indigenous, community-led Child Welfare system – work that has begun since the BC First Nations Children and Family Gathering in May 2016.  

Some of the key recommendations for the ministry include:

  • That MCFD and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) invest an additional $8 million annually to increase the number of social workers, support workers and others serving First Nations in B.C. by at least 92 full-time equivalent positions over the next two years, while ensuring that frontline staff are placed directly in First Nations communities and that each community is funded for a child and family liaison/advocate;
  • That MCFD regularly provide to each First Nation a list of all their children currently in government care;
  • That MCFD and INAC ensure funds are provided to Indigenous communities for their participation in child protection hearings;
  • That MCFD jointly commit with First Nations to alternative dispute resolution – such as family counselling or the provision of other family supports – as a the default approach in advance of any child removal order;
  • That MCFD,DAAs and INAC partner with Indigenous communities to expand parenting programs and services, as well as other professional expertise to help Indigenous parents;
  • That the Province address issues of wage parity for DAAs;
  • That the Province amend the Child Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA) to include mandatory permanency planning for all children in care and that MCFD require an independent review of permanency plans on an annual basis;
  • That the Province commit to the creation of an Indigenous custom adoption registry as those that exist in Nunavut and Northwest Territories;
  • That MCFD and the federal government work to immediately expand Indigenous early years programming;
  • That MCFD designate an Indigenous Director equipped to make decisions under the authority of the CFCSA that are based in cultural knowledge and better account for historical circumstances; and,
  • That MCFD commit to immediate actions to recruit and retain Indigenous individuals for leadership positions within MCFDs and ensure that there are plans in place, developed in partnership with Indigenous leaders and Indigenous organizations, to support the success of those individuals.