Chief seeks justice for kids

Secwepemc chiefs insist there must be reconciliation and justice for families impacted by the child welfare system and residential schools

  • Jun. 7, 2015 8:00 p.m.

Secwepemc chiefs insist there must be reconciliation and justice for families impacted by the child welfare system and Indian residential schools.

Wayne Christian, Splatsin chief and Shuswap Nation Tribal Council chief, says the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission aren’t surprising.

“Our people live with the realities and ramifications resultant from the residential school cultural genocidal regime every day,” he said.

“The prevailing effects of this horrendous stain in our history can be most clearly seen in the current child welfare system and its over-representation of aboriginal children and families.”

The TRC recommends 94 actions related to the residential school experience.

“Respect and dignity is what our children in care need and deserve,” said Christian.

“After generations of our children being abducted from their homes and families and being stripped of their culture, the status quo of child welfare cannot continue. Social circumstances must change and leadership must be front and center taking the actions required that will shape future generations.”

Christian says the tribal council awaits a Human Rights Tribunal ruling about the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s challenge of federal funding for aboriginal children.

The tribal council is also focused on those who went through residential schools.

“It is important that we recognize all of the day scholars (students) who were exposed to the traumas of attending residential schools but have yet to find their justice or peace of mind,” said Christian.

Two B.C. First Nations have launched a class action suit and are seeking to represent all aboriginal people who attended residential schools for compensation for their losses of language and culture.

“For justice to be found from the residential school era, day scholars require the opportunity for the rule of law be applied and for their experiences to be entered into the record,” said Christian.