Office of the Wet'suwet'en

Office of the Wet'suwet'en

November 12, 2013 15:49 ET

Wet'suwet'en Leadership Responds to Report on Aboriginal Children and Youth

SMITHERS, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Nov. 12, 2013) - The Wet'suwet'en leadership are dismayed by the sweeping, inaccurate statements made by British Columbia's Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, in her report When Talk Trumped Service: A Decade of Lost Opportunity for Aboriginal Children and Youth in B.C.

Through our Indigenous Approaches initiative, the Wet'suwet'en are building an alternative to address the tremendous challenges of MCFD to care adequately for Wet'suwet'en children and families. The success of this initiative contradicts Turpel-Lafond's claim that there is "no evidence of a single Aboriginal child or family receiving better services as a result [of provincial funding]."

Since commencing direct service delivery in May 2012, the Indigenous Approaches Initiative has maintained an active caseload of 40-50 families at any given time. The Initiative involves collective activities on Wet'suwet'en traditional territories, blending cultural education such as language, womb-to-grave, rites of passage, protocols, and territory stewardship with workshops on topics such as healthy communication, conflict resolution, family dynamics, self-care, community safety, and healing circles. To date, more than 400 Wet'suwet'en people have participated in the initiative.

We are offended by Turpel-Lafond's outrageous claim that "we can only conclude that the drain of time, energy and resources has resulted in a negative impact on services."

Prior to colonization when Wet'suwet'en laws and practices were outlawed, the Wet'suwet'en successfully cared for their children and families. It is an inherent right of the Wet'suwet'en to reclaim our rightful authorities and the Indigenous Approaches initiative is currently the only effective vehicle that enables the Wet'suwet'en to move forward.

We are very proud of the positive and progressive steps forward that our members are making as a result of this initiative. We have developed a community-driven process to monitor, evaluate and guide our initiative to ensure we maximize positive outcomes for our children, families and communities.

The Wet'suwet'en leadership believes that by reconnecting to their cultural systems of wellness, the Wet'suwet'en will heal from the negative impacts of the past and fully realize their human potential. By utilizing our ancient wisdom, we are creating a contemporary pathway to restore our social and economic wellbeing. Our strengths-based initiative is designed to provide intervention, prevention and support to children and families, programming that is grounded in Wet'suwet'en Anuk Nu'Atden (laws).

One participant's words tell of the success of the Initiative: "I was aware of my family not being involved culturally, we didn't know our language, when it all was just a question away. Before I felt we were just tolerated, I now feel like we are celebrated, reunited, and I now know I am capable of being a sober Wet'suwet'en Woman" (Women's Camp Participant, 2013).

Contact Information

  • Office of the Wet'suwet'en
    Debbie Pierre

    Office of the Wet'suwet'en
    Gretchen Woodman