MNBC Media Release

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NEWS RELEASE

Surrey, BC [October 20, 2016] - Metis Nation British Columbia Responds to the Representative for Children and Youth’s (RCY) Report: Last Resort: One family’s tragic struggle to find help for their son. 

Nicholas’s death should not have happened. His death is one too many. No child or youth should lose their life because they cannot access help when they need it. Yet the events that led to fifteen-year-old Nicholas’ death are part of a larger systemic failure: too many Métis children, youth, and families do not have access to culturally-specific services or to preventative programming.

In the last five months, the Representative for Children and Youth has twice recommended that the provincial government should develop and fund a comprehensive system of substance use services capable of consistently meeting the diverse needs of youth and their families across British Columbia.

As the governing body representing Métis people in BC, Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) works with the Métis Commission for Children and Families of BC (MCCF-BC) and the five Métis Child and Family Service Agencies in the province to make a difference in the lives of our people. But we have all been asked to do too much on far too little. As Last Resort notes: “Currently, MNBC is not sufficiently resourced to fulfil its mandate to develop and enhance opportunities for Métis communities by implementing culturally relevant social and economic programs and services” (pg. 40). Like MNBC, the MCCF-BC and the five Métis Child and Family Service Agencies are under-resourced. The price of this scarcity is the lives of our children and youth.

This tragedy represents a significant failure, but it also represents an opportunity for real change. Cultural connectedness and community relationships are considered key for the success and wellness of Métis youth. We know from McCreary Centre reports on Métis Youth Health in BC, that strong protective factors against suicide ideation are family connectedness and having a supportive adult outside their family to confide in, for Métis young men (ages 12-19).

As the McCreary report, Ta Saantii: A Profile of Métis Youth Health in BC notes, “During Community consultations, youth and adults told us that cultural connectedness plays an important role in the wellness of Métis youth. Taking part in cultural practices was particularly linked to positive mental health for youth. It fostered a greater sense of belonging and feelings of pride in their Métis identity, increased youth’s skills and knowledge and improved self-esteem. Across the province, consultation participants felt there was a lack of awareness of and funding available for [Métis] cultural programming in their community, and more funding and outreach was needed in this area.” 

In fact, one of the five recommendations in Last Resort states the importance of reconciliation between Canada, the provincial government, and Métis in British Columbia. Reconciliation includes systemic change. Systemic change requires a concerted effort by the federal and provincial governments to work with MNBC and the MCCF-BC, and the Métis Child and Family Service Agencies. The Memorandum of Understanding between Métis Nation British Columbia, the Métis Commission for Children and Families of BC, and the Ministry of Children and Family Development signed on September 24, 2016 represents a commitment to this change. We have an opportunity to turn these words into meaningful action.

The federal and provincial governments have an opportunity to work with Métis Nation British Columbia’s leadership and staff to effect change. They have an opportunity to work with us to develop Métis programs and services in education, health, children & families, justice and social development and social innovation as well as other provincial ministries.

We need to work together so that we do not lose our Métis children and youth. They are the future of our community and our Nation. They have a right to be safe, supported, and secure.

References:

Representative for Children and Youth (2016). Last Resort: One Family’s Tragic Struggle to Find Help for their Son. Victoria BC: Office of the Representative for Children and Youth.

Tourand, J., Smith, A., Poon, C., Stewart, D. & McCreary Centre Society (2016). Ta Saantii: A profile of Métis youth health in BC. Vancouver BC: McCreary Centre Society.

View/Download RCY Report in PDF

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For more information, please contact: 

Tracey Thornhill
MNBC Executive Assistant and Communications Officer
1-800-940-1150 / 604-557-5851