Reconciliation Action Plan Adopted September 2018
Policy Statement on Reconciliation
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was created and mandated to address the legacy of Indian residential schools and progress reconciliation in Canada. The TRC released a final report on the research conducted and released its findings and calls to action on December 15, 2015.
SOS Children’s Villages BC is mandated to support vulnerable children and to ensure that each child is in a loving and safe environment. In order to acknowledge and respect the calls to action the TRC has indicated to the public, SOS BC will be undergoing its first policy change on how to better support the calls to action recognized in the document. SOS BC will be specifically addressing and acknowledging the Legacy Calls to Action 1-5. Being a 3rd party to governing bodies who are the legal authorities of the children who are supported by SOS BC, we hope to seek change through advocacy.
Actions 1-5 call for governing bodies to look at the social welfare system and to make improvements to better support the needs of Indigenous children in care by reducing the number of children in care. This includes:
- Creating adequate resources to enable communities and child welfare organizations to keep families together where it is safe to do so and to keep children in culturally appropriate environments, regardless of where they reside
- Ensuring social workers and others who support the well being of a child are properly educated on the impact and history of residential schools
- Ensuring workers are adequately trained about the potential for Indigenous communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing
- Requesting that all child welfare decision makers consider the impact of residential school experience on children and their caregivers
Call to action 3 indicates the call to have Jordan’s principal fully implemented in order for all children to have access to all services available. Cultural appropriation is addressed in call to action 5 in which the TRC states that governing bodies develop culturally appropriate parenting programs for Indigenous Families.
Under the title Education, SOS BC aims to also transition its policies by implementing and supporting actions 10 and 12 which include:
- Improving education attainment levels and success rates
- Developing culturally appropriate curriculum
- Enabling parents to fully participate in the education of their children
Development of culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Indigenous families is described in action 12.
In Language and Culture, SOS BC hopes to address the need for Indigenous languages as a fundamental and values element of Canadian culture and society, and the urgency to preserve them – as well as the revitalization and strengthening of Indigenous languages and cultures – is best managed by Indigenous people and communities (Action 14).
Lastly, SOS BC also hopes to fully engage in Action 43 which recognizes that governing bodies need to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework of reconciliation.
It is important to note that although SOS BC is not recognized as a governing body or governing authority on the welfare of children, SOS BC works directly with children who are in care or are vulnerable. Over half the children in care in BC identify as Indigenous and we currently host a village site where the majority of children identify as Indigenous. For these reasons, SOS BC is taking its first steps to reconcile as well as progress in taking the TRC actions and implementing the change necessary in the areas we are able to engage.
- Indigenous peoples are the original inhabitants and stewards of the lands now known as Canada.
- SOS Children’s Village BC’s offices and village site are located on the unceded traditional territory of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, and Tsawwassen and Sto:Lo Nations.
- Indigenous peoples have distinct cultures and identities, and unique relationships with their lands, waters, and resources.
- Indigenous peoples have constitutionally protected rights, including Indigenous rights, Aboriginal title, and Treaty rights.
- The Crown and non-Aboriginal peoples have subjected Indigenous peoples to dispossessions, colonization, marginalization and discrimination.
- As a result of the legacy of colonial laws, policies, and the residential school system, and as a result of continuing injustices, Indigenous peoples continue to experience disadvantage in areas of housing, health, education, employment, and access to justice, and continue to face discrimination, prejudice, stigma, and racism.
- Indigenous peoples have the right to self determination and to recognition and protection of distinct cultures and identities, as provided under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Indigenous peoples have the right to be consulted about and participate in decision making concerning decisions that affect their rights and interest.
- Indigenous peoples have the right to be involved in the decision making process in regard to Indigenous children in care to ensure the culturally appropriate support children are entitled to and deserve.
- Indigenous peoples are under-represented in the social welfare profession. Social welfare agencies and support organizations are obligated to improve Indigenous representation and implement measures to support Indigenous students, social workers, youth workers, and educators in their studies and practices.
RECONCILIATION 3 YEAR PROJECT
YEAR ONE: Information gathering, education, and training, establishment of the Reconciliation Action Plan Committee – piloting direct programs and support services, establishment of Feather programming, building of Reconciliation Action Plan for organization, focus on art
YEAR TWO: Approved action plan by Board of Directors, focus on language, developing relationships with First Nations, Longhouse Project, UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
YEAR THREE: Focused on ongoing reconciliation as an organization, continuous improvement and support/services to meet the needs of children in care, sustainability
MAJOR GUIDING LITERATURE: TRC Calls to Action, Indigenous Principles of Learning
- Board of Directors of SOS Children’s Village BC approved project, moved into program implementation.
- Established local First Nations: Katzie, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo Nations, working towards building relationships.
- Funding has two streams (majority going to direct support/services, with remainder focused on staff education and training).
- Direct service program development: Feather – bridging cultural outdoor education to support Indigenous children in care (Run by certified BC teacher, developed in partnership with Fireside Adventures).
- Major components to Feather: 21 day camp in various locations over the Lower Mainland, Sea to Sky, Vancouver Island.
- Minor components: Sprouted Chef – learning about nutrition, gardening, utilizing what is in harvest. Farm to table lunch for caregivers at the Village prepped and cooked by kids.
- Field trips to local camps and recreation opportunities throughout the year including winter sports (snowshoeing, tubing, ice skating) and year round sports, swimming, biking, paddling.
- Another Direct Service: 6 week intensive arts program led by local Indigenous artist Jay Havens. Connecting the kids through art and utilizing cultural methods and approaches.
- Smoke cleansing/clearing, gathering and preparing food, sharing food, food security support.
- Learning to make drums from large hide, understanding the practice and use of this approach to drum making.
- Elders were also involved to help bring consistency and substance to the program.
- Reconciliation Action Plan Committee established – over 10 meetings held within the year, completed major project of aligning Calls to Action to SOS BC action plan, waiting to be approved by the Board.
- Six workshops organized and attended by SOS BC staff, the Village, and Board of Directors led by local First Nations elders including:
- An orientation and introduction of the situation of children in care in BC.
- A orientation of cleansing led by local elder Tom Oleman.
- Building Bridges workshop – understanding residential schools and their impact on Indigenous peoples.
- SOS BC staff attended online UBC EDX Course: ‘Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education’.
- Important information gathered: Updated Indigenous map of Canada is now up at the Village with pinned location to all the First Nations our children are connected and associated with.
- Staff and Village visit to old residential school St Mary’s in Mission led by elder Sunny from the Sto:lo tourism office.
- First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) conference attended by SOS BC staff.
- A number of funds were also utilized to support children and families attending their First Nations’ gatherings. 5 families were able to attend these events, with SOS BC covering transportation and accommodation costs.