MCCFBC Failed Métis Child SS

(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.

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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 k.henry@bcmetis.com 
 

You can now follow BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry on twitter @keithhenryMetis 

You can follow BC Métis Federation on twitter @BCMétis 

Click here to download this Press Release in PDF format.

5 Responses to MCCFBC Failed Métis Child SS

  1. Danica January 22, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    Xyolhemeylh removed three siblings 5, 7 and 9 years that had been in the care of excellent foster parents that they were bonded and attached to for five years because they felt that putting them back with birth mother/siblings was best for them. I spent several months meeting with MCFD representatives speaking on these young children’s behalf, to no avail. The severed attachment resulted in the children experiencing feelings of abandonment. Within a short period to children were placed in three separate foster homes and the last update I had the oldest was on the streets. One of my main concerns is when this type of action occurs there is no follow up of how this child is doing, and how severing attachment may affect him long-term. I personally believe these children should be able to sue the ministry, for emotionally abusing them.

  2. Earl Belcourt January 22, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    Very well said and to touch on this I must say that just the comment that the MNBC is the only legal entity that represents the Metis in BC shows their community disconnection. I always believed that the MCFD was above that, but I’ve been wrong before. Very sad.

  3. Keith Henry January 23, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    Sharing an email from Wendy here for readers:

    Thank you Wendy for the support of the family!

    Hi Mr. Henry,
    I’ve just finished reading the news article about the foster Metis parents who are facing having a toddler removed from their home after caring for the child since birth since the child’s siblings are in Ontario.

    This is the link I’ve just read:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/metis-adoption-bc-toddler-mcfd-social-workers-fight-birth-vancouver-island-1.3410368?cmp=rss&cid=news-digests-british-columbia

    This is despite the fact this couple are willing to adopt the child. Of course, there is no comment at all about the actual biological parents, who one can assume are not involved at all in the child’s welfare or life or even that of the other two siblings. Again, we have a complete breakdown in a family unit. It’s common with so many families and children are the one’s who ultimately suffer.

    I’m now retired but early in my nursing career, I worked at VGH when Children’s Hospital was there as the Health Centre For Children. While working there for 3 years, I often was aware of Native Canadian children being sent from various reserves in BC for care and often stayed for many, many months and even years. Often the parents would never visit and these children all under age 6 would then be ‘mothered’ by the nurses since they had no visitors at all. I was also aware that Social Services would send bus vouchers for the parents to visit but again, I was aware they never showed up.

    Please understand I am not putting all parents in the same basket. I’m aware of the loving parents within reserves but in some cases of child neglect, the children are better off in the hospital or even foster care system.

    One child was sent wrapped only in a sheet via Air Ambulance from Prince George and arrived at VGH seriously ill. He had bronchitis, scabies, lice, fleas, scurvy, malnutrition, Vit. B deficiency disease, no normal development and at 3 months was more like a four week old baby. He nearly died from the bronchitis which turned into pneumonia after arrival. He remained in VGH for one year. I actually purchased his only clothes (second hand ones) while he was our patient and believe me he was so loved in part because we all knew from his history, he’d only been fed beer from birth and actually went through DT’s on initial admission.

    So, I am aware that this little toddler who has been so well cared for by these foster parents may have come from a similar situation and has blossomed. Bonding is a very important part of early childhood. In my experience and education (I have my degree in Nursing, and also have taken Child Psychology courses too) and thus the beginning of the emotional development of trust and a sense of security with adults begins.

    To snatch that away from this child is absolutely cruel in order to put this toddler with strange adults and children who may indeed not have a shred of even affection or kindness at the separation anxiety this toddler would experience at the move to Ontario. Why this could be deemed in the best interest of this child is beyond me.

    If this child is moved at this age, I would suspect if toilet trained now, the child would regress to soiling and not being very communicative with ‘strangers’ who are then caring for this child. If there are tantrums from the toddler not being able to verbalize at all feelings of sorrow, confusion, even anger, it’s easy to see how this change would affect the toddler’s behaviour with others. There could even be nightmares waking the others and even if the new adults try to comfort the child, it won’t be successful as they are strangers and the familiar comforts are gone totally. Again, this is beyond cruel.

    This toddler, if moved from the secure home they have known since birth, given say four years, it may be deemed a successful move, but no one will be able to say if there are any lasting scars within this child. There undoubtedly will be and yet, due to the lack of verbal ability, this child would have no way of speaking of the loss. Simply saying that the toddler won’t remember the foster parents ‘in time’ is negating the trauma to the toddler for the time of the move and subsequent months if not years of altered behaviour.

    I may not be a psychologist, but it seems to me that the Social Services need to really look at what creates a happy child. It is NOT moving a toddler in with strange adults and children and in an unfamiliar home far from the folks they love very much. Even a dog would have a problem with such a move! With Social Services these days thinking it’s ‘okay’ to put children in their care in hotels and motels, I have to wonder what has happened to loving kindness within Social Services and truly putting that also in their mindset of working with defenceless children with of their policies or their own sense of importance.

    If my letter is of any help tomorrow in the court, I hope it is a voice of someone advocating for the toddler to stay with the foster parents. Feel free to quote parts of this if you are asked to speak to the judge and even use my name too. I have no problem with that despite my now being retired.

    The end of the story of the child from Prince George is that after the first year, during which the parents did not visit despite many attempts to have the mother visit, he was put in Sunnyhill Hospital for his next full year as he needed rehabilitation and assistance to increase his normal development.

    During that time, a nurse and her husband wanted to adopt him seeing as the parents obviously didn’t have a shred of concern for their son. It was refused and after 2 years when this lovely boy developed so well (I would visit him at Sunnyhill since he knew me from the year at VGH and I was often assigned to care for him) and one day, Social Services simply came in and took him away and flew him back to Prince George. I have often wondered what ever happened to him as that was in 1971, and even if he survived another few years in the dismal situation of this home he had come from being fed beer. All these years later, I still have one photo of him in his first baby outfit ever that I bought him. He has a big smile on his face as at that time he’d recovered from the pneumonia and bronchitis.

    So, this situation for this toddler is as ridiculous at the one I witnessed.

    I wish for a good outcome and hope the judge is perhaps more benevolent than most and can see the need for this child to remain where she gives loves and receives such familiar love too.

    Tonight I will be saying a prayer for that outcome. I’ll watch for the decision in the news. Bless you for speaking for him also.

    Most sincerely,

    Wendy Alden, B.Sc.N.

    I’m no longer an RN as retired, but worked for 34 years both in Paediatrics and also Adult Critical Care, and as a Nurse Clinician for 4 years. I also was the Medical Co-ordinator for 4 years at the Stein Festivals and provided on site Emergency care with a staff of 40 Doctors and RN’s (all of us worked as volunteers) for the 3 1/2 day festival for the final four years. We cared for over 350 patients each Festival event. So, have had some very positive experiences with the other staff at the Festival which was on reserve land.

  4. Keith Henry January 23, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    Another comment from “Amanda”:

    Sharing for members to read:

    I’m very disturb regarding this little girl and the ongoing court battle with her foster parents on the Vancouver Island.

    Every experience is different, but being adopted with my older sister from foster care, I don’t think it’s right to separate this little girl from the foster family, as it will only create more emotional damage now & as she gets older. This little girl should stay with the current family, but be introduced to her biological family. This way she will atleast know her culture and create memories with her siblings.

    My sister and I were adopted in the 80’s from foster care and to this day I’m still piecing together the family I come from & learning about my algonquin heritage. If a child doesn’t know who their biological family as they are growing up, it’s very hard locating them later in life and the government makes very it difficult for you.

    Thankfully I obtained status, but it was a very painful process. I am not sure what I’m to do with my status card & I want to know more about my culture. If you can lead me in the right direction, it would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Dave and Margarite Hannah January 24, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    Good morning Mr. Henry.
    Im forwarding this in support of you and your stance in the case of the Metis child (SS) on Vancouver Island. Based on a very similar & devastating experience our family went through with a child we had in our care from two days old until just over a year. We worked very hard with this child to form an attachment because the child wouldn’t attach until approximately 6 months old, he became like our own. But in the name of tradition, they removed the child. Although I am a Metis Citizen, I was told I wasn’t “Indian enough” as the social workers who removed him stated. It’s been a long and painful road to watch the effects of the decision these people have made and continue to make. In my opinion, there is no difference now in comparison to when the government formed residential schools. Children being taken from the strong bonds of family, (biological or other) and being bounced around without anyone having a say in the matter.
    Five years have elapsed & my wife & I continue to be invest in the life of this precious child, as I am the only healthy male role model in his life with whom he has a true attachment. my wife continues to advocate & work in the legal arena for his emancipation.
    If you like to speak directly with myself or my wife please feel free to call.

    Sincerely. Dave and Margarite Hannah.

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