The 90,000-strong Métis community in British Columbia is one step closer to taking over child welfare authority for their children and families, with the historic signing of an agreement between the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) and the province.
“Children deserve to grow up with their families and in their communities,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development, in a news release. “By working together with Métis communities, we will help more kids grow up safe, happy and connected to their culture — upholding our commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Conroy signed the MNBC and British Columbia Joint Commitment (joint commitment) with MNBC president Clara Morin Dal Col at a ceremony in Kamloops, setting the goal of transferring authority to MNBC by 2021.
The main objectives of the joint commitment are to significantly reduce the number of Métis children and youth in government care, support family preservation, and work on the legislative and other requirements to support transfer of authority over B.C.’s Métis children and families to MNBC.
“By signing this joint commitment, we assert the right to develop our own laws, our own policies, and our own practices in accordance with our traditions. As we reclaim authority, we will focus on the restoration of our most vulnerable children and families to our kinship networks, to our communities and to our Métis Nation,” said Dal Col. “We will focus on building a system of preservation and restoration, a system based on the successes of the five Métis child and family service agencies, for our people throughout the province. I am pleased to be working with the Province on this historic step forward for Métis children and families in B.C.”
Currently, the approximately 520 Métis children and youth in government care receive services through the ministry, through delegated Métis-serving agencies in Kamloops or Surrey, and, where agreed, through other delegated Aboriginal agencies around the province.
Following the transfer of authority, the ministry will be able to refer Métis children and families to Métis-specific child and family services as established by MNBC. Over the next three years, the ministry and MNBC will develop the requirements necessary for the legislative transfer of authority.