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Our Children Our Way Society March Partnership Forum

On March 6th & 7th, 2024, the Our Children Our Way Society hosted our quarterly Partnership Forum in the beautiful territory of the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Lekwungen) People. We extend our gratitude to Yuxwelupton Qwal’ qaxala (Bradley Dick) who welcomed us to the lands we were gathered on while also graciously sharing part of its history.

The Partnership Forum, in existence for more than 20 years, brings together leaders of the 24 Indigenous Child and Family Service agencies (ICFSA) in BC with representatives from Indigenous Services Canada and from the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development.

For the March 2024 Forum, the focus of our time together was how we can keep our circle strong. Day one brought together ICFSA directors and partners in circle to share intentions for coming together in partnership and to start the work in addressing what is needed for partnership renewal.

On day two, we welcomed Honourable Grace Lore and her Deputy Minister, David Galbraith from the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development. We were also joined by Hugh Braker and Cheryl Casimer representing the First Nations Leadership Council. Mary Teegee-Gray, chair of the Our Children Our Way Society and Executive Director of Carrier Sekani Family Services, presented on the extensive history of the table and the strategic goals of the Society before passing it over to Minister Lore, Deputy Minister Galbraith and Hugh Braker (FNLC) who each offered opening remarks.

Following opening remarks, an open discussion centered in on the need to achieve substantive equality for Indigenous children, youth, and families – highlighting to the Minister and Deputy Minister the issues of inequitable funding that discriminates against off-reserve Indigenous families; and the lack of resources to address the dual crises of mental health and toxic drugs.

In closing our March Partnership Forum, Mary Teegee- Gray shared the story of a young boy who when asked about what his dream was said “I dream of a day when I only read about the impact of residential schools, and I don’t have to live it” as a reminder of why we need to continue working in partnership and the roles we have in ensuring that those dreams become realities.

Delegates at the Partnership Forum including Minister Grace Lore and Deputy Minister David Galbraith from the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development and Carina Chow, A/Director of Child and Family Services at Indigenous Services Canada, BC Region, with the RCY’s Jennifer Charlesworth and Samantha Cocker, partners from ISC and MCFD, Our Children Our Way Directors and the Secretariat Team