Sto:lo Nation president Joe Hall says there’s “no evidence at all” that a gunshot through a window of the nation’s administration building Monday is linked to child protection services.
RCMP investigators agree.
“At this point, there is no indication this was targeted,” RCMP Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth said. “If this was an accidental discharge of a firearm, we are asking that person to contact us.”
However, speculation remains that the single shot through the second-floor window where the child protection office is located is linked to frustrations with the new agency, which still carries the Xyolhmeylh name.
The new agency, operated by the Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society, was created after the BC Children’s ministry took over child welfare services from Xyolhmeylh following the death of two-year-old Chassidy Whitford in 2002.
Differences over child protection — particularly the practice of apprehending aboriginal children — led to the break-up in 2004 of the Sto:lo First Nation into the Sto:lo Nation and the Sto:lo Tribal Council.
An independent board worked with the ministry to create the new governance structure free of politics, and an agreement delegating ministry authority for child welfare services in the Fraser Valley to the society was signed in December, 2010.
But not all Sto:lo communities agree with the new agency.
STC president Doug Kelly could not be reached for comment, but a reliable source described “turmoil” in aboriginal communities where delegated agencies are apprehending children, and parents are facing long court hearings with no money for legal help to get them back.
“It’s not just here in the valley, but elsewhere where there are delegated agencies,” he said. “These communities are in turmoil.”
However, Hall said that agency staff “checked to see if there was any register of threats or complaints” at the Xyolhmeylh agency, “and none of those was found,” he said.
“And on top of that, right now the RCMP are still doing investigations,” he added. “I think it’s premature that (the shooting) is even tied to the child family services,” he said.
Meanwhile, police are releasing few details about the incident, but asking anyone with information to call the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.