First of its kind in Canada: Wet’suwet’en work towards full jurisdiction of child and family services
Earlier this month the government of Canada, along with the province and the Wet’suwet’en took the first steps in giving full authority and jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en children in child and family services back to the Wet’suwet’en.
The three signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to show a commitment to work together to develop and implement a framework for exercising Wet’suwet’en jurisdiction.
Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett said, “The health and well-being of Indigenous children and families are among Canada’s most important priorities. It is clear that the current system isn’t working. We are proud that the Wet’suwet’en Nation will once again exercise jurisdiction over their children, which will better reflect the needs and aspirations of Wet’suwet’en communities.”
Chief Na’mocks Hereditary Chief of the Wet’suwet’en says they are the first nation in the country to achieve this step and this is the first time they have been able to get both the province and the federal government on board.
“We have members that no matter where they reside they are still Wet’suwet’en, so we need to be involved in all of it, not just within the nation’s boundaries.”
He adds that now they have better information and better tracking, knowing what’s happening to the children.
The MOU gives the Wet’suwet’en the ability to find children who are members of their nation in foster care and help them make sure that those children are safe and still have a connection to there culture and land.
Chief Na’mocks said with the agreement they will get a seat at the table and have a voice on child welfare legislation that impacts Wet’suwet’en children.
“There are so many policies and legislation that make the children a number instead of a human being. All children have to be loved, and all children need to have a sense of home and belonging. If they are just a number on a piece of paper their humanity is gone,” said Chief Na’mocks.