The Wet’suwet’en were celebrating what they called a historic milestone with a recently signed three year agreement that will allow them to reclaim jurisdiction of their children and families.
The agreement was between the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and the Ministry of Children and Family Development for the establishment of a traditional decision making program called “Anuk Nu’aten Bikin Tsi’Ilhye”.
“I am very pleased that after many years of working to create our own Wet’suwet’en Children and Families Agency, that we finally see some significant progress with the Province of B.C. towards that goal,” Chief Dora Wilson, with the Hagwilget First Nation, said in a press release.
“We want to reclaim jurisdiction for our children and families in our inherent governance way, the way that supported the well being of our people for thousands of years.”
“This is a profound step in that direction,” she added.
The new agency was in the works since 1998 which follows the provincial and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada delegated model.
This model is viewed as an interim but necessary measure to re-instating an inherently Wet’suwet’en governance model.
It’s a central focus that’s needed for their children as provincial models can’t ground their children in who they are as Wet’suwet’en, said the Office of the Wet’suwet’en.
And it’s a concern that desperately needed to be addressed, Chief Barry Nikal of the Moricetown First Nation said.
“We have one of the highest numbers of children in care of all First Nations in B.C., and that is not acceptable,” Nikal said.
“The provincial system has not worked for our people,” he said.
“We have been and will continue to be unwavering and resolute in taking back our inherent responsibility for our children and families.”
The Minister of Children and Family Development, Mary McNeil, said she was pleased with the agreement as well.
“Children are the heart — and the future — of the Wet’suwet’en people and we know Aboriginal children and families flourish when surrounded by their unique cultures and traditional customs.”