Okanagan Indian Band celebrates the completion of their water systems improvement project

Cowichan Tribes sign historic agreement with Canada and Province of British Columbia to support their children, youth and families

June 25, 2024 at 3:29 pm  Federal, Politics

June 24, 2024 — Cowichan Tribes, British Columbia — Indigenous Services Canada

The children, youth and families of Cowichan Tribes will have new opportunities to thrive surrounded by the love, care and support of their community now that jurisdiction has been recognized and restored back to the Nation. This restoration, affirmed under An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, recognizes their inherent right to self-determination. By managing all aspects of their child and family services, including prevention, protection measures, and operations, Cowichan Tribes can prioritize the best interests of their children as defined by their community.

Today, Chief Cindy Daniels (Sulsulxumaat), Cowichan Tribes; the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services; and the Honourable Grace Lore, B.C. Minister of Children and Family Development signed a historic coordination agreement. This coordination agreement will support the implementation of Snuw’uy’ulhtst tu Quw’utsun Mustimuhw u’ tu Shhw’a’luqw’a I’ Smun’eem (The Laws of the Cowichan People for Families and Children) for Cowichan citizens across Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, with the potential for future expansion across B.C. and Canada. The Law’s implementation includes the full transfer of all child and family services, operations and programs to Cowichan Tribes’ responsibility and control.

Every aspect of the Law is grounded in Quw’utsun snuw’uy’ulh (teachings), values, family customs, and traditions to ensure love, respect, and keeping children with their families are prioritized in decision making, including court processes. Cowichan families and community members will be empowered to support the safety and well-being of children and youth, while extended families and Elders become more involved in the work to preserve and enhance children’s connections to their family, community, culture and language. The Law also mandates prevention and provisions for people in need, which means that robust Cowichan-centric services will be offered to families facing challenges, such as poverty, inadequate housing, substance misuse, or mental health issues. This holistic Quw’utsun approach focuses on enabling family wellness, safeguarding children’s best interests, and ensuring generational teachings and values are passed on to future generations.

The coordination agreement signed today is the eighth in Canada, and the second in British Columbia under the Act. It outlines coordination mechanisms and support for Cowichan Tribes’ law to come into force over child and family services. This includes funding from the federal and provincial governments to establish that sustainable and appropriate resources are available. The federal government is providing approximately $207.5 million and B.C. has committed to providing $22 million to support the four-year agreement with Cowichan Tribes, for the period of 2024–25 to 2027–28.

By working together, we are making progress towards supporting Indigenous Peoples to determine and implement solutions for their children and families that improve their well-being. As more agreements are signed, more Indigenous children and youth will grow up surrounded by the love, support and guidance of their community, fostering a brighter future for generations to come.

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