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.

Just Posted

This week in photos | The spirit of giving comes to Haida Gwaii

Masset Lions Telethon, Queen Charlotte’s annual craft fair, Fields store coming along in Skidegate

Snowfall warning continues for parts of B.C.’s Interior

First significant snowfall of the season prompts Environment Canada warning

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

Masset residents receiving extra incentive to get home safe this holiday season

Masset RCMP, B.C. Liquor Store and local elementary schools team up to curb drinking and driving

Former Burns Lake mayor gets two years for sexual assaults against minors

Banned from taking work involving young people for five years

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were woman

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

‘Norovirus-like’ outbreak interrupts Bantam hockey showcase in Greater Victoria

Several athletes were sent home, quarantined on the ferry

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Most Read