Grand Chief Doug Kelly, president of Sto:lo Tribal Council, said Sto:lo chiefs and leaders recently formed a working group to look at Sto:lo jurisdiction for children and families. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress file)

Sto:lo leaders look at reclaiming jurisdiction for children and families

Resurrecting the ancestral roles of warriors and matriarchs is part of the plan

Steps are being taken to reclaim Sto:lo jurisdiction for children and families by reprising ancestral roles.

Grand Chief Doug Kelly, president of Sto:lo Tribal Council, said Sto:lo chiefs and leaders recently formed a working group, Sto:lo Jurisdiction for Children and Families, to see if changes can be made.

Something has to give in the wake of vastly over-represented numbers of Indigenous children in care compared to non-Indigenous kids — a long-standing irritant.

READ MORE: The struggle goes back years

“The current model does not work,” said Kelly.

He’s talking about provincial control for child apprehension by social workers under the aegis of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The ministry’s narrow focus on “safety” of the child puts them in a vacuum, he argued.

“Indigenous families take issue with that approach. We want to keep our children safe and keep the families together. The current model does not offer that.”

It needs to be reduced down to “zero” kids in care, Kelly said, by reprising ancestral roles in child protection once played by the community members like the matriarchs and the warriors.

“We need to return to a model that sustained our families for generation upon generation,” said Grand Chief Kelly.

READ MORE: Many models attempted

He also recalled that the creation of the Sto:lo Tribal Council in 2004 was in part driven by a rift over the approach to child welfare, and that many are still unhappy with a lack of any response by government 14 years later.

As a 58-year-old man, the grand chief said he distinctly remembers his aunts and uncles taking in children into their homes.

“As a child, I did not understand why children joined our family – they just did.

“As an adult, I learned that the parents passed from illness or accidents. The children needed a home and the Grandmothers and Aunties got together.”

He said this was not accomplished with the help of provincial reps, or any delegated agencies.

That’s the challenge with the way it works today, and Chief Kelly, adding that social workers should not have decision-making authority.

“This responsibility rests with the Grandmothers and Aunties. Social workers when they receive reports about children at-risk, ought to call the Matriarchs together. The Matriarchs should be informed about the concerns. After talking the concerns through, the Matriarchs will know what to do.”

Local leaders are closely watching the work of Chief Wayne Christian with the Shuswap Nation, and the Upper Nicola Band in preparing a “Grandmothers’ Declaration.”

The working group met on Sept. 28, with Sto:lo leaders in attendance from up and down the Fraser Valley and emerged with a plan to ask the Grand Chiefs’ Council to plan a ceremony later this fall which reaffirms those ancestral roles.

“We decided to invite the Matriarchs to work with us on preparing a declaration for our Matriarchs. We want our leadership to support this declaration and we will stand up this Declaration at the Ceremony.

“We want to reclaim the role of Matriarchs in taking care of our children and families.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Just Posted

PHOTO: Add flavour to your weekend with the Chilliwack Garlic Festival

The annual garlicky event runs Saturday and Sunday at Fantasy Farms

Fleeing helicopter that landed in Chilliwack part of major cross-border drug bust: documents

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vedder Rotary trail network in Chilliwack will be closed for five days on the south side

The upgrade will take until Friday so trail users asked to take alternate routes

Chilliwack encouraged to commemorate liberation of Holland

Planning already underway to mark the 75th anniversary of the event

UPDATE: RCMP confirm body of missing Chilliwack senior found

Ethel ‘Grace’ Baranyk had severe dementia

VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Wink, Blink and Nod at the Chilliwack SPCA

These three male tabby cats are some of many kittens up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

Border crossings across Lower Mainland seeing lengthy delays

Sumas, Peace Arch and Surrey-Blaine border crossings seeing long wait times

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Most Read