B.C.’s Aboriginal child welfare system is overly complex and under-resourced, new BCGEU report says

“As Aboriginal people, we absolutely need and deserve culturally appropriate and adequately funded Aboriginal child, youth and family services.” — Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

Vancouver (9 Oct. 2015) — B.C.’s Aboriginal child welfare system is complex, culturally unsuitable, under-resourced, severely under-staffed and struggles under its own complexity, according to a British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) report entitled Closing the Circle: a case for reinvesting in Aboriginal child, youth and family services

Province needs to take responsibility

“The political leadership of our province must take responsibility for properly prioritizing and resourcing B.C.’s Aboriginal child, youth and family welfare system to avoid further tragedies,” says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. 

“As Aboriginal people, we absolutely need and deserve culturally appropriate and adequately funded Aboriginal child, youth and family services,” says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, who has endorsed the report.

Need for system reform

B.C.’s Aboriginal child welfare system needs to be reformed to address cultural sensitivities and historical injustices, and to define a new service delivery model. The current system is not structured in the best interests of Aboriginal children or families. It involves an overly complex patchwork of agencies, relationships and funding arrangements.

B.C.’s Aboriginal child welfare system also requires a major investment in resources, staffing, cultural training, and improved transparency and financial accountability, the report finds. 

Broad range of topics addressed

Key report themes include

  • systemic administrative complexity
  • historical and cultural factors
  • lack of trust between Aboriginal families and communities and the child and family welfare system
  • lack of funding for culturally-appropriate services
  • insufficient staffing levels and training

“It's time for the provincial government to fully embrace and act on this report's findings, and ensure that Aboriginal children and families are receiving the supports they need and deserve,” says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

The Closing the Circle report was launched at a public event featuring Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the B.C. Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, and Dr. Cindy Blackstock. BCGEU/NUPGE members attended the event via video conference at area offices across the province. 

The BCGEU/NUPGE represents over 400 Aboriginal children, youth and family workers at five delegated, and partially delegated, Aboriginal agencies out of a total of 23 across the province.

More information:

Closing the Circle

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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