VICTORIA, B.C. – Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley has issued the following statement on B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth report Skye’s Legacy: A Focus on Belonging.
“I was deeply saddened to read Skye’s story, though I am not surprised. Skye’s experience under the guardianship of the government of British Columbia is not uncommon to that of others who have been under the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). The complete disregard for family connection mirrors the stories we’ve heard in our constituency office again and again. The institution that should be protecting these children is instead taking Indigenous children away from their families and perpetuating the colonial practices that created the residential school program.
“This investigation applied an Indigenous worldview, and does well to honour Skye’s journey and demonstrate her resilience and strength. However, the recommendations do not go far enough to ensure that children today won’t experience the same. These recommendations will do nothing to make significant change to the colonial structure, culture, and practice that is rampant in that ministry.
“This report does not give detail to the work underway to give jurisdiction to First Nations communities over their children. Given the conversation that is taking place since the discovery of the 215 children in Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc nation, and given what First Nations have been asking for, we had hoped for a strong recommendation in line with this history. Failing to fully recognize this neglects the sovereignty of First Nations governments, and dismisses the impact of Skye’s disconnection from her band.
“Further, the report states that Skye had a total of 18 social workers from when she first came into MCFD care in 2005 until her death in 2017. These MCFD social workers are exempted from mandatory regulation with the BC College of Social Workers, and they are accountable only to their managers within the same flawed system. Caregivers and service providers made several complaints to Skye’s social workers for their ‘callous’ decisions, but there was no change to their practice, because there is no external oversight body to hold them accountable. If the College had been responsible for the regulation of these social workers, Skye’s family, caregivers, and support network may have had an avenue outside of MCFD to complain about Skye’s mistreatment by the ministry, and her journey may have taken a different path.
“My heart goes out to Skye’s biological family, her caregivers, foster families, social workers and outreach workers who she trusted with her life. I will continue to push for urgent systemic change.”
B.C. Green Caucus
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