All B.C. First Nations, as well as Métis-serving agencies, will share $6.4 million to help keep Indigenous families together and improve outcomes for children and youth, announced Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy on Orange Shirt Day.
“Indigenous communities are in the best position to identify and deliver services and supports that will have positive and lasting effects for Indigenous families,” said Conroy. “Each First Nation and Métis-serving agency will be able to use this funding to best serve their community, whether that means hiring additional family support workers, creating a new program, collaborating with another community within their nation, or working with a Delegated Aboriginal Agency to improve outcomes for families.”
Each of the 203 First Nations and the seven agencies that serve Métis people in B.C. are invited to apply for $30,000 by Oct. 20, 2017. The application must include a proposal outlining their community’s prevention and family-support needs, and how the funding can help them address those needs.
Grand Chief Ed John's November 2016 report on Indigenous child welfare identified a range of family services where funding was needed. Examples from that report, which are eligible under the new program, include:
- Supporting parents from rural communities who may benefit from transportation assistance to court or counselling
- Hiring a family-support worker to help guide parents through the child-welfare process
- Working with an Elder to teach parenting skills from a traditional point of view
- Strengthening traditional Indigenous skills within families, such as fishing, hunting or storytelling
- Pooling the funding to work with other communities on a new or existing program or service
“Reconciliation is a cornerstone of this government's mandate and that means moving beyond words to action,” said Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser. “Reducing the number of children in care is part of the very first call to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We support that important work and recognize it must be led by Indigenous communities.”
The $6.4-million investment is part of government’s broader response to recommendations made in John’s report. Within his report, John called for provincial and federal partners to invest in the development and delivery of child and family services directly within First Nations communities in B.C.
In 2018/19, the prevention funding will increase to $9.5 million annually. The Ministry of Children and Family Development is currently considering how the additional funding will further support family preservation services.
“Sept. 30 has been declared Orange Shirt Day in B.C. It marks the time of year when Indigenous children were taken from their homes to residential schools — a dark period in B.C.’s history that has resulted in a cycle of inter-generational trauma still felt in many Indigenous communities and families today," said Conroy.
“Many Indigenous families became involved with the child-welfare system as a result of this cycle of abuse. Orange Shirt Day is an acknowledgement of this experience and an opportunity for First Nations and other Indigenous communities, governments, schools and communities throughout the province to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope."
- The $6.4 million is part of ongoing family preservation services delivered by the ministry.
- On Nov. 21, 2016, John submitted his final report, entitled Indigenous Resilience, Connectedness and Reunification ― from Root Causes to Root Solutions.
- This funding, and the community-based services resulting from it, is a direct response to recommendations 1, 2 and 34 of John’s report on Indigenous child welfare.
To read more about the recommendations made in John’s report, visit: http://ow.ly/ci8Y30fx7K2
To learn more about Orange Shirt Day, visit: www.orangeshirtday.org