A first step in articulating Coast Salish Child and Caregiver Nurturance & Safety Laws released

NIȽ TU,O Child and Family Services Agency and UVIC’s Indigenous Law Research Unit release results of four years of research.


Saanich, BC – NIȽ TU,O Child and Family Services Agency (NIȽ TU,O), in collaboration with the Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU) has just released a groundbreaking toolkit articulating Coast Salish Child and Caregiver Nurturance & Safety Laws.

Unveiled for the first time at NIȽ TU,O’s March Caregivers Dinner, the toolkit has already begun to make an impact on the people it is intended to uphold.  A NIȽ TU,O Caregiver’s reflection on the Legend of CAMOSSUNG, “There are really a lot (of teachings) in that story. It’s short, but there’s a lot in there.”

The toolkit contextualizes stories from within the Coast Salish world from the seven distinct nations NIȽ TU,O serves. The unique perspectives specific to each territory are examined within the Indigenous Storywork framework, a methodology developed by Sto:lo scholar Jo-Ann Archibald, alongside the ILRU methodologies. The result is an articulation of the legal principles embedded within each story.

“Our intention was to create a toolkit which we could tangibly integrate Coast Salish worldview into our direct programs and practice. We are moving away from the oppressive colonial systems that child welfare often represents, and we honour the impact these systems of oppression have had within the communities NIȽ TU,O serves. Within this toolkit we are exploring what the system in which we work within could look like when Coast Salish caregiving systems are upheld equally to the Child, Family and Community Services Act. As well, this toolkit provides a framework to ethically engage with Coast Salish oral history, teachings, and Natural laws by upholding teachings from Coast Salish Elders both from the communities we serve, and within the broader Coast Salish world.” shares Leslie-Ann Paige, the NIȽ TU,O project lead.

The Coast Salish Laws Relating to Child and Caregiver Nurturance & Safety Toolkit and its corresponding Casebook, Abridged Casebook, and Activity Books are part of a collaborative research project by NIȽ TU,O and ILRU, the latter a part of the University of Victoria, that began in 2018. Included in the toolkit are resources for Caregivers, Adults, and Teens as well as a Children’s workbook.

NIȽ TU,O has begun the process of sharing the first version of the toolkit through facilitated learning and engagement sessions, the first was during one of the regular sessions held for Caregivers of the children NIȽ TU,O supports.

The zoom session was filled with the typical sounds of families after dinner: laughing, chairs scraping, and multiple conversations happening at once. In frame sit several adults, many holding young children eating, others with older children standing next to them.

Image Featured: The cover page of the toolkit, illustrated by Doug LaFortune.

Once the children settle, the presentation gets underway.

ILRU’s Tara Williamson leads a round of introductions and Leslie-Ann speaks to the process of gathering the stories in the toolkit.

Gathered over many months of research into stories and scholarship on Coast and Strait Salish laws, as well as conversations with community members, and contributions from numerous Coast Salish artists, the toolkit is the first collection of Coast Salish Care & Nurturance Stories and Natural Laws published in this way that combines stories, analyses, and guided activities.

Next, the caregivers are read a short story and then are broken up into smaller groups to discuss the laws embedded in the narrative they just heard.

Shares one caregiver, after hearing the Lekwungen/Songhees story of CAMOSSUNG:  “Grandfather was selfish and Granddaughter was greedy. They were not being respectful to the resources and the land. They were not showing the generosity, love, and care that we are supposed to be showing to our family members.”

Keeping kids out of care and with their families in community is the guiding principle of NIȽ TU,O’s work. A delegated Aboriginal agency, NIȽ TU,O’s focus is on Family Strengthening programs grounded in the Coast Salish worldview. This toolkit provides Caregivers with real tangible activities and experiential learning to further NIȽ TU,O’s goals.

“We started this project four years ago, which really shows NIȽ TU,O’s dedication to best serving the children and community members they support and being ahead of the curve on these issues. We are just now getting requests from other agencies to begin similar projects”  shares Tara Williamson,the co-Research Director of ILRU.

NIȽ TU,O’s Executive Director Katharina Stocker adds, “This toolkit articulates important legal principles we will look to incorporate into our policies. Ultimately, with the publication of this toolkit, we are further acknowledging the oppression inherent in the foster care system as it is. This toolkit will help us co-create a new system with our communities.

With the successful launch and release of the Toolkit, ILRU and NIȽ TU,O have agreed to extend their partnership to continue refining and expanding the resources. Plans for community training and workshops are already underway, as are discussions about the development of multi-media resources to expand reach and accessibility. “The thirst for this kind of resource and materials in the field is palpable. Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities want change. NIȽ TU,O should be proud for having the foresight to be a leader in this field, and we are proud and happy to be doing the work alongside them.”

Back at NIȽ TU,O, the caregivers agree, “Ensuring the children we care for are grounded in their culture is a critical part of taking good care of them, but it can be a challenge to learn how to do that successfully on our own. We are so grateful for the support that
NIȽ TU,O offers us so we can raise happy, healthy, and culturally connected children”

All of the materials are available for public use and can be found at:


Note: The Abridged Casebook is for public use and distribution. A more extensive Casebook for community members is available upon request. Please email toolkit@niltuo.ca for further information.


Leslie-Ann Paige
Work:250-544-1400 ext. 101

Tara Williamson
Email: taraw@uvic.ca

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