Pauquachin First Nation Chief Bruce Underwood and Premier Christy Clark sign agreement at a ceremony at the B.C. legislature Thursday.

First Nations will help their bands’ children

Agreement between province, chiefs a ‘holistic’ approach


A new agreement gives First Nations a voice, says one local chief.

“It’s a turning point, it’s a milestone for us because we’ve never been down this path before. So this little baby step is a big one for all of us (First Nations and the province) but it’s an exciting one,” said Pauquachin Chief Bruce Underwood.

Underwood signed the agreement between the province and nine aboriginal communities on southern Vancouver Island to share authority for child and family services, alongside Children and Family Development Minister Mary McNeil, Premier Christy Clark and eight other community leaders. The agreement signed Thursday at the legislature covers Pauquachin, Esquimalt, Tsartlip, Tseycum, T’Sou-ke, Beecher Bay, Tsawout, Songhees and Pacheedaht First Nations, as well as urban aboriginal people through the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.

Underwood said the agreement sets up a “government-to-government” relationship to create a culturally based service system for the care and protection of aboriginal children.

“Right now a child is taken away from us, or out of our home,” Underwood said. “Now we’re looking at a holistic approach. How do we surround the child with love and care? The parents need to be a part of that love and care. So instead of apprehending a child, we’re looking at ways of taking a look at the whole family.”

Underwood said it gives them a voice and solidifies a process started in 2008 with the South Island Wellness Society, chaired by Underwood and representing all the communities.

“We’re a little bit of a ways from implementing anything. … It gives us something to strive for,” Underwood said. “It’s like the old auntie approach. We all become the old auntie and the old uncle.”

Moving forward, the nine nations will look at community resources required from addiction issues, to anger management or building budgeting skills.

“Instead of apprehending a child, how do we apprehend the family? Let’s not devastate anybody, especially the child we’re looking to support,” Underwood said. “We have a voice. We have grandmas, we have grandpas that have a say in our process.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria’s 75,000 veggie plants ready to find a home

New gardeners line-up for Get Growing Victoria

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

No one injured in suspicious Victoria boat fire, say investigators

Victoria police and fire personnel called to blaze on waters near Selkirk Trestle May 22

Three people facing mischief charges after protests at Premier John Horgan’s home

Special prosecutor was appointed to avoid real or perceived undue influence

VIDEO: Saanich police tackle man who refused to move off Trans-Canada Highway

At this point, it is unclear why the man refused to move

Dump truck in Nanaimo snags power lines, snaps hydro pole, crashes

No injuries in incident Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

Ferry sailings scheduled once again at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal

BC Ferries announces that resumption of service June 3 includes four daily round trips

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Island Health signs working agreement to turn former Comox hospital into a ‘dementia village’

Island Health has signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to… Continue reading

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

Most Read