A Platform for Action – Our Children

Three principles must guide our work to improve the lives of our children:

  1. The undeniable truth that our children thrive when connected to their culture, language, families, and communities;
  2. The reality that our jurisdictions and laws must hold the responsibility to ensure the care, protection and well-being of our children; and
  3. Our most important work is to ensure that the current generation of our children, and every generation to come, are given every possible opportunity to live in loving, enduring, and safe environments that nurture their spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.

We have made immense efforts as First Nations to uphold these three principles. But the challenges have been great, with the current reality being that over half the children in care in British Columbia are Aboriginal, and many First Nations continue to be shut out of any meaningful role in how the Ministry of Children and Family Development intervenes in the lives of our children and families. At this very moment, thousands of Aboriginal children in this Province are living in environments that are transient, disconnected from family, culture, and community, and uncertain about what the future holds for them.

We need co-ordinated and unified action. The well-being of our children is the greatest point of unity imaginable. As Regional Chief, I will work with all First Nations to advance parity, permanence, and progress on behalf of our children and families.

We need immediate parity for our children and families. Services, resources, and capacity need to be at minimum at equal levels with those available to other children across the country. The current reality is that there is a gross underfunding and underservicing of Aboriginal children and families. We must pursue this through every avenue possible, and regardless of whether it is being promoted and advanced through Delegated Aboriginal Agencies, other Aboriginal service initiatives, pilot projects through the Province, or otherwise. The immediate well-being and safety needs of this generation of children must be addressed.

We need permanence for our children – that they are given every possible opportunity to be in permanent family settings that are culturally and community connected. This means that while we achieve parity, we also re-shape our policies, processes, and structures to have permanence as an overriding goal.

We need progress in the recognition and return to our jurisdiction and laws governing the services and care for our children and families. The efforts of the last decade – from regionalization to Delegated Aboriginal Agencies – are all interim steps on the path towards our Aboriginal jurisdiction being fully exercised and realized in the lives of our children. We need to make tangible steps forward towards that ultimate goal by defining the pathway to that recognition and return, and ensuring it is entrenched in government policy. But progress on jurisdiction must not replace tangible and real success on parity and permanence. We must be improving the lives of our children every day, while we do the work necessary to ensure the lives of our children are improved for generations to come.