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Historic changes to B.C. child-welfare laws lay path to upholding Indigenous jurisdiction

November 7, 2022 at 5:35 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Hegus John Hackett, Tla’amin Nation –

“As a modern Treaty Nation, ɬaʔamɩn Nation understands the significance of achieving full governance jurisdiction for our čičuy and ǰɛʔaǰɛ (children and families). These updates to the CFCSA represent a positive step toward implementation of UNDRIP, but there is still much work to do. Our Nation is committed to working in partnership with the Province on future reforms to ensure Indigenous governments in B.C. are supported and appropriately resourced to achieve full jurisdiction. ƛoƛɬayɩmštəm (we will raise the children).”

Chief Lydia Hwitsum, Cowichan Tribes –

“The legislative amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act represent a significant step towards reconciliation by recognizing that for the last 150 years, the laws and policies regarding Indigenous children and child welfare have had severe impacts on our Cowichan families. The recognition of our inherent right to govern and provide services for our children and families provides a new and positive path forward. This day heralds the achievement of the goal pursued for many years by successive Chiefs and Councils. Cowichan Tribes look forward to working together with the Province on the implementation of this new direction.”

Acting Chief Valerie Cross, Tsawwassen First Nation –

“Our children are our future. Our children need to be wrapped in love and Tsawwassen culture, and we achieve that by being able to care for them ourselves. This legislation is a step in the right direction to uphold Treaty Rights and jurisdiction. We look forward to continuing to work with British Columbia on dismantling the harmful child welfare system that has caused and continues to cause too much harm to Indigenous families and children.”

Acting Kukpi7 George Lampreau, Simpcw First Nation –

“We wish to express gratitude with the ministry’s invitation to our proud Simpcw First Nation to participate in the development of its legislative amendments to the CFCSA and Adoption Act, that will support all Indigenous Nations in British Columbia to bring their own laws into legal force and effect. Earlier this year on April 12th, our Nation signed the historic first-ever Tcwesétmentem (“Walking Together”) S. 92.1 Agreement that is legally binding on all social workers in B.C., which ensures our involvement in all child-welfare matters under the B.C. CFCSA, until such time as we take over with our own child welfare law. I genuinely believe that Indigenous Peoples around B.C. will recognize how Indigenous children and youth can anticipate a brighter future through this act of reconciliation.”

President Eva Clayton, Nisg̱a’a Lisims Government –

“These necessary and overdue changes to child and family service law in British Columbia will enable and support the Nisga’a Lisims Government as we exercise our inherent rights and jurisdiction over children and families. Child-welfare law and policy will finally be aligned with the human rights of our people in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. For generations, our leaders and people pushed for this day, and we have clear assurance that our Treaty rights will be given the proper interpretation in light of the UN Declaration. In the near future, the Nisga’a Lisims Government will pass laws for our children and family and have them apply to support them, according to our culture and values, wherever they reside.”

Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit Political Executive –

“First Nations children are strong and resilient. They deserve this impactful legislation that affirms their rights, their parents’ and grandparents’ commitment to them, and First Nations’ duty to ensure there is an opportunity for them to be raised with their traditional values, language, culture and identity. This legislation paves a new path towards a brighter future for Child and Family Services in British Columbia, one that puts a focus on successful outcomes for our children.”

Regional Chief Terry Teegee, BC Assembly of First Nations –

“The forced removal of children for generations, through residential schools and the child-welfare system has been a deep source of pain and injustice. Today, that era comes to an end in British Columbia. Will it be easy to make all the changes needed when it has been entrenched for so long that First Nations have not been seen as good parents due to racism and stereotypes? No, it will not, but we will never go back to those days again, and together we will work to ensure that children grow up to be the people they wish to be with the love and support of our peoples in every part of their lives.” 

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