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Tla’amin Nation reaches interim agreement with Ministry of Children and Family Development

čičyɛ (grandmothers) lead the way in redesign of Child and Family Services 

May 23, 2024

tišosem – Today, the Tla’amin Nation and Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) signed the ʔaǰuθmɛt (ah-jooth-met) Interim Agreement. ʔaǰuθmɛt means ‘to understand what someone is saying.’

The agreement’s authority flows from the Tla’amin’s inherent rights to care for its children and its treaty relationship with British Columbia. It was signed on Tla’amin territory and commits Tla’amin and MCFD to share information and collaborate and cooperate wherever a Tla’amin child is involved with Child and Family services.

Many hands make for light work. Team Tla’amin with MCFD representatives following the signing of ʔaǰuθmɛt agreement. Front Row (l-r): kʷʊkʷpə John Louie, Denise Devenny, Assistant Deputy Minister, Indigenous Engagement MCFD, Losa Luaifoa, Director of Community Services and Executive Councillor. Back Row (l-r) čičyɛ Brenda Pielle, Executive Council member Lori Wilson, čičyɛ Gladys Osawamick, čičyɛ Sherry Bullock, Grace Lore, Minister of Child and Family Development, Hegus John Hackett, čičyɛ Elsie Paul, Ryan Pielle, Child and Family Services Manager, čičyɛ Evie Tom, Janet Newbury (Child and Family Services), Jasmine Menendez, Youth & Family Advocate and Health Director Marlane Paul .

The made-in-Tla’amin Child and Family Service reform process has been led by the Tla’amin čičyɛ (grandmother) circle, an advisory group made of Tla’amin čičyɛ and a few kʷʊkʷpə (grandfathers). 

The čičyɛ circle issued the following statement at today’s signing.

“Children are a gift from the creator, they are not ours to keep, they are for us to take care of the best we can. It is our responsibility to act with love in our heart for all children and to protect and teach them.

The forces of colonialism have temporarily interrupted our relations. A lot of our young ones don’t know the teachings because they don’t have čičyɛs- we are still responsible for them; someone has to show them. 

To be a čičyɛ means responsibility. The Tla’amin čičyɛ circle is made up of community members with a focus on the children, the future generations of our community, and reawakening our traditional teachings for sake of the children.

We love Tla’amin children and families unconditionally and believe that a connection to our lands and relatives are part of a thousands-year-old chain of inheritance and very important to keeping them well.

It has come time for us to be strong and firm about what we will, or will not, accept and as a self-governing Nation, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This agreement draws a new healthier boundary with government. 

We are working on restoring trust, connection, and respect between one another and in our services because with those values we can do just about anything.

Mostly we need our children to know that they are special and important to us and that we will do whatever it takes to keep them safe and well.”

Members of the Tla’amin čičyɛ circle witnessed the agreement signing May 23, 2024 at Governance House. Front Row (l-r): Denise Devenny, Assistant Deputy Minister, Indigenous Engagement MCFD, Losa Luaifoa, Director of Community Services and Executive Councillor. Back Row (l-r) kʷʊkʷpə John Louie, čičyɛ Brenda Pielle, čičyɛ Gladys Osawamick, Grace Lore, Minister of Child and Family Development, Hegus John Hackett, čičyɛ Evie Tom, čičyɛ Sherry Bullock, and čičyɛ Elsie Paul.

Quotes

“This agreement is a small but important step forward to regaining our primary role and rightful place of supporting Tla’amin children and families with trusting and culturally safe services.” Tla’amin Hegus John Hackett.

Minister of Child and Family Development Grace Lore learns some Tla’amin placenames during her visit to tišosem.

“It is such an honour and privilege to be on Tla’amin territory today to sign the ʔaǰuθmɛt (ah-jooth-met) agreement. This is about expanding and learning together to better support children and families on Tla’amin territory but also right across the province. čɛčɛhaθɛč” Grace Lore, B.C. Minister of Child and Family Development

“Congratulations to the Tla’amin First Nation on this agreement to coordinate services for children and families. This important work to support the wellness of Tla’amin children and families is guided by Tla’amin ways and marks a good step forward on the path of reconciliation.” Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast

Background

  • Tla’amin have an inherent right to self-government, which includes exercising their laws, teachings and practices in caring for children, youth and families.
  • The name of the agreement is ʔaǰuθmɛt (ah-jooth-met) – which means to understand what someone is saying.
  • Tla’amin and B.C. have been negotiating this agreement since 2022. It becomes effective immediately upon signing on May 23, 2024.
  • The ʔaǰuθmɛt (ah-jooth-met) Interim Agreement commits the Province of B.C. to work in a new way with Tla’amin Nation, specifically.
  • BC will recognize that identifying whether a child has ties to Tla’amin is something Tla’amin must be involved in. 
  • BC will actively consult and cooperate with Tla’amin from this day forward at every step of its work with Tla’amin children and families, living anywhere in the province.
  • BC will recognize that this requires building functional working relationships between MCFD staff and Tla’amin and provide the resources necessary for this to happen in a good way. 
  • BC will ensure that all staff have the opportunity to participate in Tla’amin-specific cultural safety training that is developed by Tla’amin.
  • BC will ensure its staff at every level will be oriented to their specific responsibilities as laid out the agreement, and that there are practical mechanisms in place for them to adhere to it and for you to enforce it.

Download the Agreement [pdf]

Media
Davis McKenzie
Media@tn-bc.ca
778-834-7934