‘It’s such an emotional day’: Cowichan Tribes gains full legal control over children and youth

'It's such an emotional day': Cowichan Tribes gains full legal control over children and youth
CHEK

Cowichan Tribes has signed a historic agreement that will see the nation take full legal control over its children and youth.

Back in early November, Cowichan Tribes asked its members to vote on whether or not they wanted to see their nation take over child protection services instead of having Cowichan kids put into British Columbia’s foster care system and 83 per cent of members voted in favour of this decision.

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“It is such an emotional day for all of us today is histroical we have worked on this for many years. It means a lot to our people to keep our family units together. To keep our kids with our families,” said elected Chief Cindy Daniels (Sulsulxumaat) of the Cowichan Tribes.

The federal Minister of Indigenous Relations Patty Hajdu was in Duncan to sign over the legal jurisdiction of children, youth and families to the Cowichan Tribes.

“It’s extremely poignant for me to stand here in front of you to try and make amends for a country that’s brought so much harm. This now allows for the community to be able to determine for themselves how they will support families that are struggling,” said Hajdu.

The federal government will provide approximately $207.5 million over the next four years with B.C topping up with another $22 million.

“We know that kids are best served when they are connected family community culture and Cowichan has been providing these services and now they are going to be able to provide them under their laws,” said Grace Lore, provincial minister of children and family development.

According to the province, 68 per cent of children in B.C’s foster care system as of 2023 were Indigenous.

Daniels told CHEK News that she is emotional knowing that they will now be able to keep their children within the community.

“We don’t want to hear the horror stories of them being removed from our reserve they need to learn their culture they need to learn their language they need to stay with their families and their community,” said Daniels.

The nation’s child protection services will now cover an area of more than 32,000 square kilometres and the average case load per social worker will be brought down from 20 cases to 10.

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