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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The strength of the sash : the Métis people and the British Columbia child welfare system Canada, Deborah


The Strength of the Sash: The Métis and the Child and Family Welfare System in BC presents a Métis perspective on the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). Furthermore, this dissertation articulates a Métis alternative to MCFD services and programs based on 20 Métis research participants’ stories. These participants are actively engaged in the Métis community as Elders, leaders, and social workers. This alternative is called the Métis People’s Child Welfare Model. One of the major concerns for many Métis people in this province is the disappearance of our children when these children are taken into the care of MCFD. By disappearance I mean that our children, once taken into the system, are misidentified as Aboriginal or even non-Aboriginal. Once identified in these terms, Métis children are placed outside of their cultural environment, often in non-Métis homes without any cultural support. Sometimes these placements sever our children’s ties to the Métis community. This dissertation addresses those missing children and the problems associated with the provincial government’s use of the term “Aboriginal,” not only in practice, but in its legislation and in its policies. More than a simple critique, however, this dissertation presents a Métis worldview and from that worldview develops the Métis People’s Child Welfare Model. This model suggests some of the ways that Ministry workers can begin to understand Métis communities. The Métis People’s Child Welfare Model recognizes that the Métis people in this province have kept our traditions, our ways and our worldview alive, despite continuing colonization. Our family systems are cracked but not broken by colonization. This Model maintains our ways of living and asserts that we have the cultural resources to best care for our children.

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