April 17th, 2024

Sts’ailes, frustrated with the feds, signs and funds its own child welfare agreement

By The Canadian Press on February 22, 2024.

Lily Solomon, from left to right, Paulette Phillips, Wanda Lewis, Tyra Point, Jeremy Charlie and Karson Charlie of the Sts'ailes, a Coast Salish First Nation, are shown at a signing ceremony in the Charlie Longhouse in Harrison Mills, B.C., in a Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Sts'ailes Nation, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

OTTAWA – A British Columbia First Nation has taken matters into its own hands after what leaders say has been a lack of commitment from the federal government to help them take full jurisdiction over child and family services.

Sts’ailes, a Coast Salish First Nation, has been working with Ottawa for years to implement its own child welfare practices after the government passed a law in 2019 that allowed it to do so.

A co-ordination agreement between the nation, Ottawa and B.C. was set to be formalized last week.

But the First Nation says the federal government hit the pause button instead of following through, so it has decided to start and fund its own program without the formal go-ahead.

Willie Charlie, the lead negotiator for the agreement, says he was told the last-minute delay on Canada’s side sits with the Finance Department.

Charlie says “colonial, paternalistic, bureaucratic systems” are affecting kids, and the more time that passes, the longer they’ll be stuck in systems that don’t reflect their culture.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2024.

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