NIȽ TU,O will host the Spring gathering of the 24 Delegated Aboriginal Agencies in BC in Early March.
NIȽ TU,O is pleased to host this spring’s forum for Delegated Aboriginal Agencies from March 6th through March 7th, 2023.
Indigenous children are severely overrepresented in Canada’s foster care system, a result of the devastating effects of colonization on Indigenous families. While only 7.7.% of youth under age 14 are Indigenous, Indigenous youth make up 53.8% of the population of children under age 14 who are living in foster care.
To help reduce the number of Indigenous youth in care and “return historic responsibilities for child protection and family support to Indigenous communities,” the Ministry of Children and Family Development delegates care of Indigenous children to Indigenous agencies. The agencies to which care is delegated are called Delegated Aboriginal Agencies (DAA). These agencies are critical, as they provide an opportunity to provide culturally appropriate care to Indigenous youth who would otherwise be removed from community and subject to settler care systems.
NIȽ TU,O is one of 24 DAA in BC, including urban, on-reserve, and Métis agencies. Together, the agencies represent “60% of First Nations in the province.” The agencies have varying levels of delegated responsibility. Three of the 24 “provide voluntary services and recruit and approve foster homes; 7 have the additional delegation necessary to provide guardianship services for children and youth in continuing care; and 14 have the delegation required to provide, in addition to the above, full child protection, including the authority to investigate reports and remove children.” NIȽ TU,O has an agreement that allows it to “offer voluntary and guardianship services and to recruit, train and support caregivers.”
Directors from all 24 agencies are invited to attend forums every quarter to discuss their shared mandate, support one another, address challenges, and share successes. For example, at the most recent forum in October, attendees gathered in Kamloops and met in the new offices of the Secwepemc Child and Family Services and like NIL TU,O provide a range of services to seven communities in their territory. The forums take place twice a year in Vancouver and twice a year in another area of the province.
The forums are critical opportunities for agency directors to influence government legislation, policy, and funding decisions to create better outcomes for Indigenous youth. In this particular moment in history, the potential for positive change is high.
In the words of Directors Forum chair Mary Teegee, “We are now at a crossroads where the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls to Justice, and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal are all pointing to the need for the reform of child and family services to Indigenous children, youth, families and communities.” Teegee continues, “Legislative advancements with An Act Respecting First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children, youth and families and with the amendments to the Child, Family, and Community Service Act provide the opportunity to breathe life into declarations, review recommendations, and calls to action/ justice.” Against this backdrop, advocacy at the forum has the potential to create significant impacts for Indigenous children and youth.
The upcoming forum hosted by NIȽ TU,O will span four days and will include a meeting of the Executive of the DAA’s, Directors Forum and Partnership meetings with the Feds and Province. Community members can expect heightened activity during the forum as representatives from all 24 agencies arrive at NIȽ TU,O which is on Tsawout territory.
NIȽ TU,O plans to embrace its role as host to showcase the beautiful land of the Coast Salish people. It will share the positive work being done in the community, take participants on a tour, and have community members share stories and songs. NIȽ TU,O looks forward to the opportunity to have the agencies see where we are located, and to hear a bit of the history of this area.