Directors Forum News
May 2021 Issue 15
From the Directors Forum Executive
Today, as we mark the beginning of Mental Health Week, we hold in our hearts the 500 British Columbians who have lost their lives to toxic drugs this year. As we focus this week on mental health, we are mindful of the deep need within our communities for connection to culture and traditional healing.

Six years ago, the Directors Forum and MCFD completed the Aboriginal Policy and Practice Framework.

The APPF is intended to ensure that when Indigenous children, youth and families receive services—whether from MCFD or from a DAA—those services are culturally safe and trauma-informed, and they honour and support Indigenous peoples’ cultural systems of care and resiliency.

And yet, by all accounts, the services our children, youth and families receive remain tainted by racism and traumatizing practices.

In the past few months alone, BC’s Representative for Children and Youth
has reported on: Indigenous youth experiencing racism and forced treatment while involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act; youth falling into homelessness after aging
out of care with no ongoing support;
the disproportionally high number of injuries suffered by First Nations children and youth in care; and, most recently, Indigenous families of children with FASD experiencing racism, shame, blame and stigma but no services or supports.
To address the opioid crisis, to give meaning to Mental Health Week,
we must replace racist and traumatizing funding, policies and practices
with culturally safe and trauma-informed services and supports.
Delegated Aboriginal Agencies are working with our communities to create and deliver the programs that are needed: healing camps, grief circles, land-based connections, cultural continuity, medicine teachings, drum circles, parenting support, and more. We invite our partners at MCFD and ISC to join us in this work and to bring to life the aspirations of the Aboriginal Policy and Practice Framework.
In the Spirit of Unity, Intent of Treaty and Reconciliation 
Directors Forum Executive
BC Achievement, in partnership with
The Office of the Lieutenant Governor
of British Columbia, announced the recipients of the inaugural British Columbia Reconciliation Award last week.  

The award recognizes extraordinary individuals and organizations who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, integrity, respect, and commitment to furthering Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province of British Columbia, or inspired others to continue Reconciliation efforts.

The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, has chosen Reconciliation as one of the key priorities of her mandate.
Congratulations to Directors Forum agencies Carrier Sekani Family Services and Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services (xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ - Many Ways of Doing the Same Thing - Research Team) for this honourable recognition.
“The inaugural recipients of this award are shining examples of those in British Columbia who have demonstrated the many approaches to furthering Reconciliation through meaningful action. It is humbling and inspiring to read of their stories, their incredible impacts in their communities, and to learn from their perspectives on Reconciliation. I am deeply honoured to have the opportunity to partner with the BC Achievement Foundation and the selection committee to develop this award and to recognize these exemplary individuals,” says Austin.

“Reconciliation must take root in our hearts, within families, between generations, and throughout our communities. I invite all British Columbia to join us in celebrating these champions, to learn from their stories, and to strive to build relationships with each other across cultures.”

The British Columbia Reconciliation Award draws inspiration from the work of the Honourable Steven Point [Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl], 28th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and a founder of the Award.

His hand-carved red cedar canoe, Shxwtitostel, currently on display at the BC Legislature buildings, was created as a symbol of reconciliation, with the understanding that “we are all in the same canoe” and must “paddle together” to move forward. In honour of this legacy, this year’s recipients will receive a print of a canoe paddle painted to commemorate the award by Kwakwaka’wakw artist, Cole Speck. 
From Samantha Cocker, Deputy Representative,
Office of the Representative for Children and Youth
Greetings from the RCY. It has been my honor and privilege to be able to work alongside the Directors Forum and Delegated Aboriginal Agencies over the past 20 years. I am grateful for the relationships created, the teachings so generously given and the unending support for one another.

My hands are up to each of you in gratitude for your unwavering commitment to the First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Indigenous children, youth, young adults and their families across BC. It is my honor to continue to work alongside you all in my current role with the RCY.

As part of that role, I am really pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this newsletter and bring you up to date with what’s going on in our Office. 
May 3 to 9 Mental Health Week
in Canada

This year the Canadian Mental Health Association theme for Mental Health Week is #GetReal about how you feel.

We all have feelings and emotions and part of our mental wellness is being able to express those feelings without fear and to find and seek support when needed. 

In the course of the Representative for Children and Youth’s (RCY) daily work, it is clear that many young people in this province struggle with mental health issues and that their needs often go unmet by the system.

We also know that there is often bias, stigma and shame attached to mental health issues which makes seeking support very difficult, and, for some, nearly impossible.

Our November 2020 report, COVID-19 and the Impact on Children’s Mental Health, written by Dr. Charlotte Waddell at Simon Fraser University’s Child Health Policy Centre, stated,the COVID-19 public health crisis has created significant challenges for children in B.C.and that racism may contribute to children facing hardships during the pandemic.

We have seen several examples of this over the course of the past year and know that more work needs to be done to raise awareness, increase supports and reduce barriers to services. 

The importance of belonging for children and youth is critical to their emotional, physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Having a strong sense of belonging to family, to community, to the land and to self as well as “legal” belonging are protective factors that support the overall health and well-being of children and youth. When belonging is disrupted, it increases the likelihood that children and youth will struggle emotionally and with their mental health. We need to do more to create environments where children and youth grow up with a strong sense of belonging and the ability to stand tall to express their emotions and to address their mental health issues as they arise without bias, stigma or shame. An upcoming RCY investigative report will be directly addressing this topic.

In the past few months, the Rep has participated in several events and gatherings focused on child and youth mental health and parental mental health. Emerging research is confirming what we anticipated in our fall report, as well as what community service providers and family members have been telling us. Our young people and parents are at significantly heightened risk of mental health concerns, especially depression, anxiety, irritability, obsessions/compulsions, attention and focus difficulties and PTSD. These may contribute to challenging behaviours that add to the stress and distress that families and caregivers are experiencing.

While the findings are alarming, it is encouraging to see the many ways in which mental health and COVID-19 impacts are being illuminated and discussed. The key will be to translate this knowledge into on-the-ground action. The Canadian Mental Health Association states

This Mental Health week, don’t be uncomfortably numb. 
#GetReal about how you feel, and name it, don’t numb it.” 

There are many resources on the CMHA website that you can find here. You can read COVID-19 and the Impact on Children’s Mental Health full report here. Other mental health resources: Foundry B.C. Kelty Mental Health
May 5
“Red Dress Day” or “Redress day”
– a day that is set aside to honour all of our sisters who have gone missing or been murdered and to remind us of the importance of not giving up and of continually fighting to “redress” the systems that have maintained colonial/structural violence against women and girls for generations.

For many of our people, however, this day is like every day they spend grieving or still looking for their loved ones; that is, for many, every day is Red Dress day. 
On this day, I want to acknowledge all of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit children and youth – especially those who are in the care of the system – who have suffered great emotional pain at the loss of their grandmothers, mothers, aunties or sisters. I also want to acknowledge all of the matriarchs, grandmothers, mothers, sisters and aunties who are still with us, wiping the tears and giving so much of themselves to build strength and foster resilience in our children and youth who are struggling. 

This is a day to think about what you can do to make a difference –
to support families in their efforts to keep their loved ones safe and to
change systems that continue to oppress and devalue the lives of
Indigenous women and girls.

The calls for justice include a section specific to all of us who work in the child welfare system and also include actions all Canadians can undertake.

We are called to speak out against violence against Indigenous women and girls, to confront and speak out against racism, and to encourage others to do the same. We are also called to expand our knowledge by reading the Final Report, listening to the truths shared and acknowledging the burden of these Indigenous and human rights violations and their continued impacts.

RCY has embarked on a path of anti-racist practice and decolonization as an organization. This will be a winding and sometimes dark and bumpy path, but with a commitment to journey together, to hold each other accountable to the calls for justice and to redress these colonial systems of care, we make the bumps and dark times more bearable in solidarity with one another.

My hands are up to each of you who continually bring awareness to Red Dress day, who lift up First Nation, Métis and Inuit women and girls and who strive for change every day both personally and professionally. Click the links for the MMIWG Final Report and the MMIWG Calls for Justice
FASD Report
On April 15, RCY released its report on gaps in services and understanding around fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) entitled Excluded: Increasing Understanding, Support and Inclusion for Children with FASD and their Families.
This report was co-led by Sarah Levine from RCY’s Monitoring team and Myles Himmelreich, an adult with FASD who has 15 years experience raising awareness and providing teachings about FASD to caregivers, service providers, professionals and law enforcement across the country. The report is based on an extensive research and consultation process with the intent of shining a light on an area that has been substantially ignored in terms of investment and service provision for many years. It calls for both immediate and sustained improvement in the quality and equity of support for children and youth with FASD and their families.

In writing this report, RCY has attempted to highlight an area of critical need without reinforcing the misunderstanding, stigma and blame that surrounds FASD. Too often, the mention of FASD results in blame and shame directed at mothers and sometimes entire communities without giving consideration to the multiple factors that can contribute to fetal exposure to alcohol.

Excluded illuminates FASD as a life-long disability that is often misunderstood and accompanied by significant stigma for those affected by it. It concludes with a note of hope around possibilities and opportunities as we provide better quality, more equitable and increased supports to children with FASD and their families.

I had the opportunity to virtually meet Myles and hear a small piece of his story. His passion and compassion, resilience, strength, courage and acceptance that he so clearly articulated, despite dealing with horrendous obstacles from the system in his life, was inspiring and moved me to tears on more than one occasion. Myles has so much to share and to offer to help shift the narrative around FASD and build better understanding and awareness.

RCY will be arranging learning sessions via webinars with Myles and others. If you would like your agency or the Forum to participate in these sessions, please reach out to me at [email protected] or to Pippa Rowcliffe, Executive Director, Monitoring.

Read the news release for Excluded: Increasing Understanding, Support and Inclusion for Children with FASD and their Families here. Read the full report here.
March 2021 Directors Forum and Partnership Forum Highlights
The Partnership Forum welcomed the newly appointed BC Minister of Child and Family Services, The Hon. Mitzi Dean, MLA.

DAA Directors shared the growth
and evolution of agencies over the last 36 years and the roots of the Indigenous movement to resume our rightful place in the affairs of our families. Four examples of Indigenous led practice were showcased, illustrating the unique lens and service approaches among Delegated agencies. 

It was a timely discussion for Directors. Very recently in BC we reached a tipping point, and today over half of the 3,529 Indigenous Children and Youth in Care are in the care of Delegated agencies. 

We appreciated the opportunity to meet the Minister to begin the conversation about how we can work collaboratively to support Indigenous children, youth and families, and are encouraged to have a minister with decades of frontline child and family service experience leading this work.
Debra Foxcroft, Elder
Directors Forum
Robbie Bolan, Program Support/Community Liaison;
Irene Adams, Family/Youth Support Worker;
Pam Charlie, Cultural Worker; and Laverne Henry, Executive Assistant
Chrissy Thomas, Executive Director of Nlha’7kapmx Child and Family Services Society and her team opened the Partnership Forum on March 10 virtually on Zoom. We are grateful to Chrissy and her talented team who drummed and sang, preparing us for the days ahead. To see and hear the opening, click here to download or watch it on Teamwork.

It was an honour to have the presence and wisdom of elder Debra Foxcroft at the Forums. A strong leader with over 30 years' experience working with and advocating for the health and wellbeing of First Nations peoples, children, youth and families,
Debra has made significant contributions. She continues to direct her positive energies as a committed and responsible leader.

Ms. Foxcroft will attend the 2021 Forums in June, September and December to support the Directors Forum. A feature interview with Debra has been scheduled for the June issue of DF News.

RCY Representative Jennifer Charlesworth and Samantha Cocker provided a presentation on Mental Health with Tracy Lavin from the Secretariat.

RCY shared reports specifically pertaining to Mental Health Issues and for which they are actively tracking recommendations;
reports without recommendations that speak directly to mental health in the pandemic, and that speak to mental health in the context of broader analysis of First Nations or Métis children’s experience; and legacy reports that had some recommendations pertaining to children and youth and mental health and substance use concerns in previous years.

Watch the full session here (note May 3-9 Mental Health Week article for further details)
Nuts and Bolts for DAAs

Dr. Sarah Morales and Scott Smith shared their knowledge on Jurisdiction - Nuts and Bolts for DAAs. The interactive session provided DAAs with the opportunity to learn and participate in a Q&A Session. Click the links for the presentations and/or watch the session recording here.

Dr. Sarah is a Member of Cowichan Tribes and Professor at University of Victoria Law School. She is currently working with Cowichan Tribes on legislation on jurisdiction.

Scott works with Gowling WLG Vancouver and is working with Carrier Sekani on legislation and jurisdiction.
The Directors Forum Executive honoured all DAA Directors with a small gift in recognition of the work they do for children and families, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year. The only instruction was that we had to open it together at the Directors Forum! The Executive also suggested that Directors and Guests do a fun project together during the Promising Practices Circle, which was the last session of the Partnership Forum.

Kelly Edgar, ED of USMA Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council Family and Child Services shared her work of art.
About the Directors Forum 

The Directors Forum is a coalition of leaders from the 24 Delegated Aboriginal Agencies in BC. Bringing decades of frontline experience, the Directors Forum provides a collective and expert voice on Indigenous child & family service delivery.

News. Adam Calvert was elected at the March 9th Directors Forum as Métis Representative. Adam is the new Executive Director of Metis Family Services in Surrey, following in the footsteps of former ED and DAA Executive member Betty Kao-Lin.
Directors Forum Executive
Mary Teegee
Directors Forum Chair
Fraser Lake/Prince George
Cheryl Williams
Northern Representative
Jennifer Chuckry
Urban Representative
William Yoachim
Vancouver Island Representative
Kelley McReynolds
Lower Mainland Representative
North Vancouver
Adam Calvert
Métis Representative
Yvonne Hare
Interior Representative
Delegated Aboriginal Agencies Executive Directors
Christa Smith
Williams Lake
Jennifer Dysart
Haida Gwaii
Carrie Easterbrook

Bella Bella
Arlene Adie
Williams Lake
Michelle Chase
Fort St James/Prince George
Katharina Stocker
Loretta Stewart
Denise Verreault
New Aiyansh
Kathleen Bennett
Terrace/Prince Rupert
Directors Forum

Partnership Forum

Directors Forum Executive

Partnership Planning Committee
About the Partnership Forum
The Partnership Forum includes the Directors Forum, Ministry of Child and Family Development and Indigenous Services Canada. It was established to work together to make systemic changes to policy, practice, legislation and funding to ensure the best interests of Indigenous children and families are met.
About the Directors Forum Secretariat
In 2018 the Partnership Forum requested the British Columbia Aboriginal Child Care Society to provide Secretariat support to the Directors and Partnership Forums. The Secretariat is made up of communications and policy analysts that focus on deliverables endorsed by the Directors Forum, the Partnership Forum, and the British Columbia Aboriginal Child Care Society. A Secretariat work plan identifies priorities for the Secretariat across four domains:
  • Governance support to the Directors and Partnership Forums;
  • Engagement with Delegated Aboriginal Agencies on initiatives identified by the Directors and Partnership Forums;
  • Research on initiatives identified by the Directors and Partnership Forums; and
  • Resource Support to the Directors and Partnership Forums
Each Delegated Aboriginal Agency provides funding support to the British Columbia Aboriginal Child Care Society who contracts with the analysts to provide the Secretariat support.
Click the images to view and/or download from Teamwork
The Aboriginal Policy and Practice Framework in British Columbia has been nominated for the Premier's Award in the 'Partnership' category. Further details will be published when available.
The Partnership Orientation Manual includes the history of Indigenous Child Welfare in Canada, First Nations Child Welfare in British Columbia, Indigenous Welfare Reform and more.
ASW Professional Development Proposal

Indigenous Perspectives Society is interested in creating partnerships with individual Delegated Aboriginal Agencies to deepen the capacity of our Aboriginal Social Work instructing team who are currently still employed in the field. We understand that the DAA leadership are often in a place of feeling at capacity with workload and the desire to continue to provide learning and leadership opportunities for their social workers.

The proposal is for IPS to train one or more of your experienced social workers with five or more years of experience to guest instruct in our ASW training program in exchange for training for your agency staff in one of the many trainings IPS has to offer. For further details, contact IPS Associate Director Connie Martin to discuss further: [email protected]