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

October 8, 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 BCGEU report titled Closing the circle: a case
for reinvesting in Aboriginal child, youth and family services released

“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.

B.C.’s Aboriginal child welfare system needs to be reformed to address
cultural sensitivities and historical injustices, and 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.

Key report themes include: systemic administrative complexity; historical
and cultural factors; the 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

The Closing the circle report will be launched at a public event at 5:30pm
today featuring Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the B.C. Representative for
Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, and Dr. Cindy Blackstock. BCGEU
union members will be attending the event via video conference at area
offices across the province. The event is at full capacity.

The BCGEU is one of the most diverse labour unions in the province,
representing 65,000 workers at 550 different employers across British

The union 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.

Media: for interview requests, please call Oliver Rohlfs BCGEU
Communications (778)318-9164

read the complete report here