(Vancouver, BC) BC Métis Federation is addressing the statement released yesterday from the Métis Commission for Children and Families of British Columbia (MCCFBC) that supports the removal of the Métis child from a Métis foster home. This situation has gripped all British Columbians this week as the matter is before the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) contends that one of the major factors in their decision to move the foster child, known as SS, to reunite with siblings in Ontario was because there was Métis community support for this decision.
Yesterday the MCCFBC released the statement as follows:
The Métis Commission for Children and Families of British Columbia acts as the aboriginal community legislated under the Child, Family and Community Services Act in this province. As the official apolitical Métis authority acting on behalf of Métis children experiencing the child protection services system in BC we have been involved with this case for some time now.
We hold a seat on the Adoptions Exception Committee in this province, which means we take great care to consider the best interests of each aboriginal child brought before us for placement decisions. We have taken this situation under careful review and know what is at stake for the potential options for this young Métis child. It is our view that a placement with biological family(siblings) and preserving their family bond is one form of keeping the Métis community in tact.
A culture plan has been worked on for several months to ensure that the Métis community remains involved in this child’s life. We are thankful for the care that this young child has received to date while these arrangements were being made.
The Métis Commission for Children and Families of BC would like to see MCFD put measures in place to ensure that these placements are completed in a more timely manner in order to avoid situations like we are seeing in court this week.
BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry stated, “This statement demonstrates the irresponsible impacts these service delivery agencies can have when they make ill informed decisions that impact our members. While we respect the confidentiality to the process it is clear MCCFBC has absolutely no consultation or legal relationship with the BC Métis Federation, despite our efforts to request clarification for some time. They do not speak for our Nation and regardless of any provincial legislation, we are self governing and have always asserted our Section 35 rights.”
BC Métis Federation President Henry added; “These decisions are guided by the Child, Family, and Community Services Act (CFCSA). The only thing that is declared to be paramount in the CF&CSA is that the best interests of the child are paramount. Section 4 of the CFCSA sets out to define the components of the best interests. However, nowhere does it state that any individual right is paramount and can usurp the others. In practice the rights may depend on context and chronology and there are many times when it is necessary to find a balance between the various rights. This requires good judgement. Good judgement depends on many things and in child welfare this means a really good knowledge of the needs of children and how to protect them in many different circumstances. If this judgement is lacking, then Métis children are in peril. Only too often we will find that MCFD and MCCFBC personnel at every level lack this judgement and sometimes make decisions which seem inane to any reasonable person.
The CFCSA identifies three rights for children. There is the right to continuity of care, the right to kinship placement and the right of Aboriginal cultural preservation. It appears what MCFD and MCCFBC has done is ignoring the very important right to continuity of care and the right to Métis cultural protection for “SS” in favour of the interpretation of the right to kinship placement. Time has completely altered the balance of rights. Placing the girl with her siblings in Ontario might have made sense during the first weeks of care. It might be defensible up to the age of six months when primary caregiver bonding starts. After two years things have changed drastically. There is now a continuity of placement which should be a high priority. There is a guaranteed security of future adoption in the established Métis home. By the proposed actions to try to remove SS not only does MCFD plan to disrupt continuity of care, but they also disrupt continued and established Métis kinship contact with the biological parents and with the Métis culture.
BC Métis Federation President Henry concluded, “The fundamental question to be asked is does this move make sense given the considerations? In addition it is clear the biological parents have made it public that they too want their Métis child to stay in the Métis foster parents home with their strong support for adoption. The statement by MCCFBC is absolute irresponsible and their decision on the Adoptions Exceptions Committee has had a major affect on the strategy to move SS to Ontario that MCFD is defending today. MCCFBC does not speak for our Métis community and that fact that this alleged Métis organization would defend placing our Métis children in a non Métis home without full awareness of these facts in this case seriously questions their value in any regard. MCCFBC had no contact with the foster family or SS during the decision making process and supported the efforts of MCFD without full knowledge. It is clear they do not fight for our Métis children and culture and let’s hope SS is not made another victim of these decisions.”
For more information about the BC Métis Federation please go to www.bcmetis.com.
Media Inquiries:Keith Henry, President BC Métis Federation #300-3665 Kingsway Vancouver, BC V5R 5W2 Office 1-604-638-7220 Cell 1-778-388-5013 Email email@example.com
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