Thursday, October 24, 2019

BC Tables Historic UNDRIP Resolution in Legislature Protecting Indigenous Rights

First Nations Flag

Here is today's historic and politically explosive announcement in the CBC and here in the Globe and Mail.

At my age, I have come to realize that sometimes it takes years and years to finally be proven right.  About eight years ago now I was locked in a difference of professional opinion with my supervisors at my Child Protection Office in the BC Lower Mainland.  One of the children on my caseload, a five year old girl was left an orphan when her indigent father died.  Her mother, a full-blooded First Nations woman, had died several years earlier.  Her father was white, with no aboriginal ancestry.  The problem was what to do with the child--who had no relatives in Canada.

It turned out her father had a brother who lived in California with his wife.  My supervisors wanted to move the child down to California into the custody of her uncle and his wife...persons that she had never met in her life because the brothers were estranged.  Little "X" as we will call her, had several former caregivers here in BC who knew her well and loved her.  She had been in and out of foster care since birth.  Her father had been an alcoholic/drug addict who kept her in substandard conditions while he drank and drugged himself to death.  There had been other concerns about him as he and the child had shared the same bed.  The child had only been living with him for about two years prior to his death.

One of "X's long term former foster parents was a couple with other children who regarded "X" as their child and sibling.  Unfortunately, this couple and their children had moved to Alberta a couple of years earlier.  This couple expressed an interest in "X" ...and I was of the opinion that this was the best option for she would thus be able to retain her Canadian identity and most importantly, her First Nations heritage here in Canada.

We had a meeting in my supervisors' office to resolve the matter.  My supervisor and her supervisor attended, with me being the only one who wanted "X" to stay in Canada.  It was a "Solomon's decision" as they say.  I prepared for the meeting by looking up the UNDRIP on the internet and copying some of the pages describing that resolution.

At the meeting, I argued that the only thing that "X" still had in her possession was her First Nations Heritage and her Canadian citizenship/identity.  THESE valuable assets should not be stripped from her, along with everything else.  I argued for her to, preferably, stay in the current foster home she was in in BC, but if that was not possible, then be moved to rejoin her long-time Foster Home Family in Alberta where they regarded her as family.  I read aloud the provisions of the UNDRIP to my supervisors and said that someday this would be law and "X" would not be allowed to be moved.  They looked at me like I had two heads.

Needless to say, I lost the argument.  "X" was moved to California and taken there quickly thereafter by another social worker.  She would be raised in a whitebread world and her First Nations heritage would be a long-forgotten memory.

Today, the UNDRIP will be tabled to become law in BC.  I wonder if my supervisors...who are no doubt still on the job...will think back to that day...when they had the relevant paragraphs of the resolution read aloud to them by a lowly front line Social Worker.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Front line social worker, yes , lowly, no.
Garuda sends blessings to spark the heart.