|UBCIC Supports BC Representative for Children and Youth Report|
December 1, 2008
Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver, BC) – The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is calling on the Province of British Columbia to address the growing concern highlighted by BC Representative for Children and Youth, Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond in the BC Legislature on November 26, 2008. Representative Turpel-Lafond warned that soon seven out of ten children in care or living outside of the parental home will soon be Aboriginal, indicating that the current trends will result in negative outcomes for Aboriginal children at large.
When Turpel-Lafond took office in 2007, approximately 51% of children in care were Aboriginal, but Turpel-Lafond indicates that given demographics and current trends, it could result in an increase to 60-70% of children in care could be of Aboriginal descent.
The findings of the Representative, underscores the concern that Aboriginal children remain vulnerable to the current policy regime of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. These findings are indicative of the short-comings of MCFD to adequately address the needs of Aboriginal children in care and children living outside of the parental home. This raises a litany of questions that need to be addressed to get a broader understanding of the status of Aboriginal children in British Columbia. What is the state of Aboriginal children in care and those living outside of the parental home? There is considerable discussion on the status of Aboriginal children in care, however, not enough information is provided to the status of Aboriginal children living outside of the parental home. This is cause for concern due to unknown challenges and shortcomings these children and their caregivers face.
Aboriginal children, in particular, those of First Nations descent, face a broad spectrum of challenges when it comes to growing up in British Columbia. They face issues around poverty, access to essential health services, housing and an emphatic gap between services available to them, depending whether they reside on- or off-reserve. The well-being of First Nations children is not the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, but rather is a responsibility that is ours to share collectively.
UBCIC President, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip states “Deepening poverty has thrust our Indigenous communities into a state of crisis.”
Grand Chief Phillip further stated “Consequently, the health, safety and well-being of our children are at great risk. Clearly, the current MCFD legislative and policy framework is failing to effectively address the alarming rise in the number of Indigenous children being taken into care and raised outside of their parental homes. This is absolutely unacceptable.”
“The Provincial Government through MCFD must invest the resources necessary for Indigenous People(s) to develop a legislative framework that allows for the exercise of our inherent right and jurisdiction to care for our children,” concluded Grand Chief Phillip. “Indigenous problems demand Indigenous solutions. “
For further information:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.