The Indigenous Child & Family Services Directors welcome the amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act introduced by the BC government today. We have been calling for these changes for the last 20 years. The proposed amendments will address some of the barriers our Nations are encountering as they work to resume authority for their own child and family services.
However, the proposed amendments fall short of the changes our Nations and our agencies require to provide the services our children and families need. There are three key areas in which the amendments must go much further:
- The principles through which the Act is interpreted need strengthening in order to guide reforms toward services that are substantively equal and safeguard the culturally-based safety and wellbeing of our children.
- The proposed amendments on Indigenous Laws does not adequately uphold the right to self-determination, as articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our Indigenous laws must be paramount and upheld for all of our citizens wherever they reside.
- The proposed amendments contemplate a new role within the MCFD authority structure: the Indigenous Director. The Indigenous Director must have meaningful decision-making authority; however, as defined within the proposed amendments, the Indigenous Directed plays only a consultative role.
The ICFS Directors and our Indigenous leaders have been calling for meaningful changes to the Act for decades. We call on British Columbia to work collaboratively with us—to lean into the decades of experience among our ICFS Directors—to co-develop and implement those changes.