EDITORIAL: Strong advocate for kids

It would be very unfortunate if the all-party committee discussing the appointment of the province’s representative for children and youth does not agree to keep Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in the role.

It would be very unfortunate if the all-party committee discussing the appointment of the province’s representative for children and youth does not agree to keep Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in the role.

Turpel-Lafond, a First Nations woman from Saskatchewan who is a former judge, has done an excellent job in what is a very difficult and highly-stressful job. It is her job to let the light shine in cases of child neglect, child deaths and other truly disturbing incidents involving children.

As an independent officer of the B.C. legislature, her role is to make the situations public and suggest solutions. It is not to kowtow to government policy or close her eyes to some truly challenging and difficult situations.

Turpel-Lafond, as both an aboriginal woman and former judge, has unique skills which put her in a good position to speak up about this. Her   background is a real help in this position.

Far too many of the children who are in foster care in B.C. are First Nations children — a much higher proportion than the First Nations share of B.C.’s population. There are a wide variety of reasons for this, but it remains a fact. Someone who comes from a First Nations background, and has dealt with those situations both personally and professionally, is in a far better position to help make real change than a complete outsider.

It is important to remember that the initial suggestion of an independent children’s commissioner came out of the inquiry presided over by Judge Thomas Gove. This was set up after the tragic death of Matthew Vaudreuil in 1992. The five-year-old spent his short life in government care.

The NDP government followed through on the recommendation. The BC Liberals​ abolished the position in 2002, shortly after they first came to power, but created the independent representative’s office after Ted Hughes​ was asked to report on what was becoming a serious problem involving children in care.

Turpel-Lafond took the new position in 2006. While she has made politicians squirm on many occasions, she is doing so because she is speaking on behalf of children, families and the general public.

These children need an independent voice. They will never get that by relying solely on the existing child welfare system.

Turpel-Lafond has demonstrated that she is truly independent.

~ Black Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

UPDATE: Missing Chilliwack teen found, safe and sound

RCMP ‘pleased to confirm’ teen has been located

Health officials are restricting visitor access to facilities in Chilliwack and Hope

Access rules for CGH and RCH, long-term care homes, and assisted living facilities have changed

COVID-19 case diagnosed at Abbotsford rehabilitation residence

First Abbotsford care home to have confirmed COVID-19 case

Fraser Valley’s tulips fields off limits to visitors due to COVID-19

Abbotsford and Chilliwack tulip farmers have announced their festival season won’t go ahead

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Vancouver man, 21, charged after mother found dead in Squamish home

Ryan Grantham, 21, has been charged with second-degree murder

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Surrey MLA Jinny Sims cleared of criminal wrongdoing

She resigned her cabinet post during RCMP investigation

Most Read