Penticton Indian Band grandmothers lead march on MCFD office
Band claims social workers attempting to take children from families without proper consultation
By Brady Strachan, CBC News, October 13, 2017
Members of the Penticton Indian Band marched through that city today to protest what they claim is an eroding relationship with the Ministry of Children and Family Development where social workers are attempting to take children into custody without consulting band leadership.
The protest march was organized by Inez Pierre, a grandmother and Pentiction Indian Band member.
A change in the way the new provincial government is handling MCFD cases involving families on the reserve prompted the protest march, said Pierre
“They are failing to notify our leadership and just saying they are coming out to apprehend our children,” she said.
The issue came to a head when social workers tried to remove two children from a preschool, Pierre said.
Pierre said the situation is reminiscent of the Sixties Scoop, a period of Canadian history which saw First Nations children removed from their homes and placed in non-Aboriginal foster homes or put up for adoption.
“Families and children are fearing to go to school or to go to daycares, [because of] the fear of being taken,” she said.
Approximately 70 members of the First Nation marched on the local MCFD office in Penticton Friday morning to hand-deliver a letter to ministry staff, demanding a change in procedures and a meeting with senior staff to resolve the situation.
“We can keep our kids safe. Far too often, we’re been discriminated against,” said band Chief Chad Eneas.
“Our kids have been stolen, and we are here because their future should be just as good as anyone else’s.”
In a written statement, Child and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy said senior staff are willing to meet with band leadership to hear their concerns.
“We share the goal of ensuring that children and youth stay connected to their culture and community and remain with their families wherever possible,” Conroy wrote.
“We are implementing Grand Chief Ed John’s recommendations to provide better supports and keep Indigenous children in the care of their families and communities, and we’re working with Indigenous and Métis communities to understand what they need most and how we can work together to improve the lives of children and families in B.C.”