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Report calls for overhaul of First Nations child welfare system

Last Updated Nov 21, 2016 at 4:32 pm PDT

(Martin MacMahon, NEWS 1130)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Better efforts are needed to ensure First Nations families stay together, according to a new report.

Eighty-five recommendations total were put forward by a Grand Chief at the request of the province.

If you are born in one of BC First Nations communities, you’re 15 times more likely to end up in government care.

Grand Chief Ed John gets an “A” for effort from the president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, but he expects more broken promises from the government. Grand Chief Ed John wants to change that, recommending the government increase support services and early intervention support.

“What we need to build is connection to our families, to our parents, to our communities, our extended families, to our cultures, to our languages, to our land. This is really what connectiveness is about,” says John.

He also wants more ministry of children and family staff based in First Nations communities.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip fears the report will be mostly ignored.

Phillip points to several reports making similar findings over the years, which he says have not led to significant funding increases or change. He calls the provincial response public platitudes.

He says the provincial government will continue to prioritize natural resource development over health, education and children’s ministries.

“In many ways she (Christy Clark) will say the right things, but absolutely do nothing in terms of changing the dire circumstances of our communities with respect to the appalling conditions and statistics of injury and death to children in care and that’s absolutely unacceptable.”

In 2006, 50 per cent of all children in care in BC were Aboriginal. That has risen to 61 per cent this year.

Phillip sees new funding as the key to making concrete change to the conditions Aboriginal children grow up in.