Indigenous Child and Family Services Directors is built on the vision and wisdom of the Indigenous leaders, mostly women like the late Nita Walkem, who have worked tirelessly to restore decision-making over the welfare of our children and our families.
We trace our roots back to the Indian Homemakers Association of BC, and the early Indigenous women’s political movement. We’ve never stopped fighting back against government efforts to destroy our culture and break up families.
The first delegated Aboriginal agency was Usma Nuu-chah-nulth, established in 1985 on Vancouver Island. There are now 24 delegated agencies serving 120 First Nations in British Columbia and Inuit and Metis families. Today, our agencies provider services to more than half of all Indigenous children and youth in care.
We’ve always said that delegation is an interim step in the march towards full Indigenous jurisdiction over Indigenous child and family welfare, a march that is gathering pace.
A Bright Future
Thanks to the tireless advocacy of Indigenous leaders across Canada, new legislation has created a pathway for Nations to reclaim jurisdiction over their children and their families under their own laws and according to their own culture.
Communities can now create their own child and family laws and practices. This is a moment we have been preparing for.
Over the past 36 years, our agencies have developed practice standards and protocols based on a strength-based Indigenous approach that holds us to higher standards than those set by British Columbia. The groundwork is in place, and with a combined 294 years of frontline service, the Directors forum has the knowledge and experience it needs to honour Nita Walkem’s legacy by bringing all our children back into our embrace.
Honouring those who paved the way
We continue to be inspired by our memories of Nita, we will always remember her.
She believed in the inherent strength of our families and our communities. She taught us to do things the right way – working together, believing in the human spirit and holding one another up.
We stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us: Nita is one of those giants. We will continue to honour her as we work to make her dreams for Indigenous child welfare come true. We are so close now.