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Funding for culturally-based wrap around services lacking

On June 3, Minister Farnworth announced the release of A Path Forward: Priorities and Early Strategies for B.C. | June 2023 Status Update. The report provides an update on the provincial government’s response to Reclaiming Power & Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 

As Indigenous Child and Family Services agencies, we are witness on a daily basis to the devastating impact of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. We also understand the deeply interconnected pathways between violence, vulnerability and the child welfare system.  

The 2023 Status Update highlights numerous Indigenous-led initiatives to address and mitigate violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. However, funding for culturally-based wrap-around services to strengthen families and keep them safely together is notably absent from the Status Update.  

The need for meaningful prevention services is clearly reflected in the National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice: 

  • 12.4 We call upon all governments to prohibit the apprehension of children on the basis of poverty and cultural bias. All governments must resolve issues of poverty, inadequate and substandard housing, and lack of financial support for families, and increase food security to ensure that Indigenous families can succeed.
  • 12.10 We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to immediately adopt the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal 2017 CHRT 14 standards regarding the implementation of Jordan’s Principle in relation to all First Nations (Status and non-Status), Métis, and Inuit children. We call on governments to modify funding formulas for the provision of services on a needs basis, and to prioritize family support, reunification, and prevention of harms. Funding levels must represent the principle of substantive equity.

The path forward must include a shift toward meaningful prevention services for Indigenous children and families. These are the types of services needed to interrupt the tragic pathway between the child welfare systems and violent victimization—and to keep for our beautiful and sacred women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ loved ones safe.