(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver) Senior First Nations leadership in BC are thanking Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, BC’s Representative for Children and Youth, for her recent special report detailing serious concerns about the unbalanced review carried out by Mr. Bob Plecas for the Province of BC.
The RCY’s report is titled “Implementation of the Plecas Review, Part One: Decision Time” and highlights that the Plecas Review was created without any input from Aboriginal leadership or the RCY Office.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of UBCIC, stated, “We fully support and totally commend Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond for continuing to fight for the inclusion of Aboriginal voices into highly sensitive top-level discussions around child welfare. Mr. Plecas’ complete and offensive disregard for Aboriginal input reflects an absence of a balanced perspective and indicates that his report is lacking important and essential information regarding the child welfare crisis in BC.”
BCAFN Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson added, “As Indigenous Peoples, our families, our communities and our children are central to who we are and why we do what we do. The Plecas report and the government’s response with respect to it is unacceptable. We must be innovative in our approach by focusing on prevention and permanency. The Plecas report tells us what we already know about the child welfare in BC, however now is the time to engage our leadership and those in our communities to ensure we take an inclusive and collaborative approach to addressing the child welfare crisis in BC. We need action and not just words, our children’s future depends on it.”
Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit, concluded, “The First Nations Leadership Council organizations have consistently and clearly stated that significant and real change is required, as well as direct investments to First Nations communities to support First Nations’ children and families. What is certain is that there are far too many First Nations children in care in this province and we must work together to effect the positive changes so desperately needed to lower the disproportionate and dreadful statistics.”
In 2015 Mr. Plecas was hired as a special independent advisor to Premier Clark and the Minister of Children and Family development, Hon. Stephanie Cadieux, to review the J.P. case, but his mandate was expanded to include an “interim report on the comparative analysis of applicable legislation, policy, standards and practice and recommendations for the improvement of Ministry and other systemic processes.”
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs, First Nations Summit, and BC Assembly of First Nations, working together as the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC), have been extremely vocal in their opposition to the Plecas Review recommendations to limit the RCY position, as articulated in an open letter on December 14, 2015 (attached). The FNLC sent a further letter dated April 28, 2016 (attached), expressing concerns about the Province’s identification of $100M to develop a workplan to implement recommendations from a report that is so clearly biased.
The First Nations Leadership Council is comprised of the political executives of the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.