The following is an open letter to Premier Christy Clark from Grand Chief Doug Kelly…
Dear Premier Christy Clark:
Please find attached a Stó:lō Tribal Council (STC) Membership Resolution approved at our Annual General Meeting on Friday, December 18, 2015. The STC is a members’ organization. Adult members (18+) may vote in Tribal Chief elections, seek elected office as Tribal Chief, engage in debate and vote on any decision before the STC.
Our members call upon you to terminate immediately the services of Bob Plecas. In his report – “Plecas Review Part One: Decision Time,” Plecas demonstrates a calloused and ignorant opinion about Indigenous and Aboriginal children in government care. Plecas shows us a cold and cynical view of government, independent legislative oversight of child welfare, and politics. Instead of recommending that your government drop its appeal in the “J.P” case in favour of out-of-court settlement – he wrote a folksy tale to defend your government and blame others for your many failings in child welfare. Plecas ignored the needs of vulnerable children and families immersed in poverty. Plecas reserves his self-serving empathy for MCFD social workers, Ministers, and senior executives. Sadly, your MCFD Minister and Deputy Minister praised Plecas for his so-called report on the “J.P.” case. For these and other reasons, STC members call for you to shelve immediately the Plecas Report. STC members want you to work with the Representative for Children and Youth, the First Nations Leadership Council, the First Nations Health Council and First Nations to transform children and family services. We want to keep our children safe and our families together.
The attached resolution is sponsored by Chief Ernie Crey and Chief Clem Seymour. Chief Ernie Crey is a life-long advocate for child welfare and missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Ernie advocates for all of our people. Chief Clem Seymour and Seabird Island have been working in partnership with the MCFD to keep children safe and to keep families together.
The STC Chiefs Council, all eleven leaders, share a deep and abiding love for our children and families. Our leadership is committed to work in partnership with willing partners to improve social, economic, and cultural outcomes for our people. Sadly, your government does not appear interested in working with First Nations to protect Indigenous and Aboriginal children. You seem only interested in continuing to promote the blame game.
Our people hold Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in the highest regard. She is a hero to us. We respect and love her courage and her dedication to improving children and family services. The Plecas report displays a significant contradiction for all to see. Plecas resents the Representative for her stellar performance in holding your government accountable. Even in his deep resentment, Plecas like many consultants before him, borrows your watch to tell you the time. And you pay him handsomely for it. Plecas cribs the RCYO recommendations regarding increasing front-line workers, improving quality assurance, and increasing funding to MCFD and other ministries. When the Representative gives you this advice – you ignore it. When Plecas gives you the same advice – you promise to act immediately. We are left to wonder about your motives and your promise to put families first. One of our members recently observed that it seems that you apparently meant to put the Plecas family first.
The STC fully supports the efforts of the First Nations Health Council in its work with your Deputy Ministers to develop strategies to strengthen governance of children and family services, renew failing policies, improve services, and seek increased investment. Sadly, you do not appear to understand nor support the work of your senior officials. We ask that you seek a meeting immediately with the First Nations Health Council for a full briefing.
In closing, our members observed the stark contrast in the fresh approach taken by the federal government to reconcile with First Nations. We note that the election platform is producing a significant and different approach with Ministerial mandate letters. The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau is putting action to political promises that gives our citizens hope for a brighter future. This approach has motivated our leadership to take up the Prime Minister on his offer to partner with First Nations. We contrast that to your government’s approach that is eerily similar to that of the previous federal government for the past decade.
The STC looks forward to a prompt reply from you regarding this Open letter and our Members Resolution.
Grand Chief Doug Kelly
President, Stó:lō Tribal Council