Honouring our Diversity Report

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Bringing Aboriginal Child Rights to Life Within Urban Child Welfare.

VACFSS has been working for many years to evolve a system of care that flows from culture. There have been many lessons on this journey as well as some very big breakthroughs.

One exciting part of this journey is a new report just published by VACFSS, called Honouring Our Diversity: Bringing Aboriginal Child Rights to Life Within Urban Child Welfare. This report gives a foundation for us to continue working together for a more vibrant system of care.

As an urban agency, VACFSS serves children and families from over 50 distinct Aboriginal cultures across Canada. It is our privilege to work with – and learn from – each child and family about how we can best support them, building on their own cultural strengths.

Three years ago VACFSS began fresh talks about how to culturally ground its services. The agency’s vision is that cultural knowledge and cultural values will guide its work. The question is: how do we accomplish this in a large city, where so many Aboriginal cultures meet?

The heart of this historic work within VACFSS has been a dialogue on customary law and cultural protocols. Through interviews, over thirty staff generously shared their own teachings and perspectives on how to strengthen cultural practise within VACFSS. Many VACFSS partners also offered guidance through interviews. Groups such as the Urban Native Youth Association, Aboriginal Foster Parents Association and the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society brought vital perspective. Staff committees at VACFSS then reflected further. Along the way, there was guidance from Elders and practising Knowledge Keepers. Many hearts and hands contributed to its message.

The Honouring Our Diversity report addresses the core question of how VACFSS can culturally ground its services, in keeping with the Knowledge and Instructions of the Ancestors. Within each Aboriginal culture there is customary law governing life relationships, to maintain and protect health within and between generations. Among Aboriginal peoples, these sacred laws and teachings vary, but they have in common a world view that is holistic. First and foremost, there is a responsibility to nurture and support the development of children as spiritual beings.

The Honouring Our Diversity report explores the specific cultural rights of children. It provides a foundation for understanding, and for continuing the work together, to translate these cultural rights into practise. Within VACFSS, we all have a role in deepening this dialogue and carrying this work forward on behalf of the children and their families.

Download the Report