Agreement transfers child welfare authority

  • Apr. 17, 2006 10:00 a.m.

Submitted by Bill McKenzie-Following years of hard work and over a year of face-to-face negotiations with INAC and the provincial government, we reached a delegation enabling agreement on March 29 and it was signed in Old Massett on March 30.
There was a good turnout of local residents as well as some Skidegate residents to witness the signing. We plan to have a more formal celebration in both Old Massett and Skidegate in June.
This agreement has not come soon enough. At the last count there were 63 Haida children in government care and that number continues to rise each year. Most of these children are in non-Haida foster homes scattered across the province. We are confident that we will have a different approach to social work and we will keep Haida children on Haida Gwaii, within our own culture.
For the last 12 years many people from both our communities have been involved in working towards this goal. Over the last two years, a working group with representation from both councils and from the Council of the Haida Nation spearheaded the planning. The current working group includes Judy Williams and Terry Hamilton from Old Massett; Bob Mills, Richard Russ and Ooka from Skidegate; and Ron Williams from the CHN. Others have also been involved in moving this initiative forward including Wilson Brown, Vern Brown, Elizabeth Moore and Florence Lockyer from Old Massett and Amanda Reid-Stevens, Ruth Gladstone-Davies and Willard Wilson from Skidegate. Richard Russ has been our chief negotiator.
We believe this agreement is a good one. We stood firm on a number of issues. For example, we insisted that a clause be included in the agreement giving the Haida the right to care for and provide service to Haida children and families wherever they reside. We have also insisted that the geographical service area not be limited to the two communities of Skidegate and Old Massett but include all of Haida Gwaii. Similar agreements with other First Nations have limited their authority to on-reserve services only. We also ensured that reference to the constitution of the Haida Nation was made in the agreement despite strong objections from the government negotiators.
Now that we have an agreement and funding will soon be in place, our work is just beginning. Over the next few months we will have to open offices in both Haida communities; develop protocols with the RCMP, the hospitals, the school district and the Ministry of Children and Families; appoint a board of directors; recruit, hire and train an executive director, social workers, family outreach workers and clerical staff. We know there is a lot of interest in these positions so we plan to recruit and hire our staff in the fairest way possible.
We realize that providing child welfare services to our communities will not be easy. Also, it is not going to happen overnight. We will begin by providing basic family support services to some of our vulnerable families. Within a year, we plan to be recruiting our own foster homes. Within two years we plan to take over guardianship services to Haida children presently in the care of the government and within six years, we hope to be providing a full range of services including child protection.
If you have any questions or suggestions concerning our new Haida Child and Family Services agency, please feel free to call either Monica Brown or Bill McKenzie at 626-5257.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Carsen Gray set to launch first children’s book co-created with mom Lynn Hughan

Gray, Hughan launch ‘Twelve Months of Fun on Haida Gwaii with Mattie and Jojo’ on July 23

Federal government urged to protect rare moss clinging to life on Moresby Island cliff

Scientists say small patch of slender yoke-moss struggling to survive on square metre of limestone

Southern section of QC Main temporarily closing this month

QC Main (South) will be closed to all traffic at about 5 kilometres from July 21 to 28

From the archives of the Haida Gwaii Observer

50 YEARS AGO (1970): Nine of 12 entries in the Beach Buggy… Continue reading

BC Ferries reopens limited hot food service between Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert

Release on July 8 says hot food will be served in packaging

VIDEO: Masset Dance Troupe presents beachfront ‘promenade performance’

Troupe performed ‘A Mid Summer Day’s Dream’ for family, friends on July 4 and 5

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read