Simpcw First Nation is partnering with the Province on a two-year project focused on keeping families together through connections to their culture, language, families and traditional decision-making for members who live away from home.
“Today is a very proud day for Simpcw as we are now able to fulfil a commitment our council made to our members at jurisdiction development engagements over the past two years,” said Kúkpi7 (Chief) George Lampreau. “Our away-from-home members asked for the same family support and cultural services that our members living in our Simpcw communities receive and I’m very happy that this agreement now enables us to fulfil those responsibilities to benefit our families in Prince George and the Lower Mainland.”
This project builds upon the Tcwesétmentem: Walking Together Agreement, B.C.’s first community agreement under section 92.1 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA). Tcwesétmentum was co-created with Simpcw and signed through a ceremony and protocol on April 12, 2022.
Through this project, Simpcw away-from-home families will benefit from receiving supports from their own community. Simpcw early intervention outreach workers, based out of satellite offices in Prince George and New Westminster, co-located with the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), will provide services to Simpcw children, youth and families in place of receiving services from MCFD. The services will focus on family support, cultural connections and wellness activities.
“Simpcw families living away from home in urban areas will now be able to benefit from prevention and early intervention supports, provided directly by Simpcw members and in accordance with Simpcw culture and traditions,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Families can receive a variety of supports, including counselling, light housekeeping, respite, food and clothing vouchers, and more to enhance families’ overall safety and well-being, made possible through Simpcw’s community agreement, the first one signed in the province.”
Simpcw early intervention outreach workers will connect with children, youth and families who may be in need of support, to provide food and clothing vouchers and other immediate support services. The work is focused on strengthening families and communities, by helping prevent children from coming into care and reunifying families whenever possible.
In addition to supports for families, this agreement is anticipated to offer new information and insights for the ministry as it co-develops a funding model to support First Nations’ jurisdiction over child and family services in B.C. with rightsholders and Indigenous partners.
Simpcw celebrated the agreement signing at the B.C. Parliament Buildings and will ratify it in accordance with Simpcw protocol and ceremony at their all-members Melukwmíntem (Gathering Together) event that will take place in Jasper, Alta. on Oct. 20 and 21.
- Simpcw First Nation, near Barrière, has approximately 800 members, 250 of whom live in Chu Chua village, Simpcw’s main village, and 550 members who live away from home; of the 550, approximately 490 live in British Columbia, and 150 are under the age of 19.
- In 2019, British Columbia became the first province to recognize the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, incorporating in law the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- By doing so, the B.C. government brought the internationally recognized standards of the UN Declaration into provincial law with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act) and created a framework for reconciliation in B.C., in keeping with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- In November 2022, Bill 38: Indigenous Self-Government in Child and Family Services Amendment Act was passed into law.
- Through Bill 38, British Columbia changed provincial legislation to remove barriers for Indigenous governing bodies to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services and became one of the first provinces in Canada to expressly recognize Indigenous Peoples’ inherent right of self-government, including self-determination specific to child and family services.
Read more about the Simpcw Community Agreement signed in 2022: https://news.gov.bc.ca/26597
Learn more about Bill 38: https://news.gov.bc.ca/27668