November 27, 2012: Responding to Inner City Youth at Risk of Suicide

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November 27, 2012

Responding to Inner City Youth at Risk of Suicide

Late last September, a suicide pact was discovered among 30 young people in Vancouver’s Inner City. A coordinated crisis team intervened, admitting 24 to hospital for their own protection. Most of these youth were Aboriginal.

This was not an isolated incident. During the previous spring and summer, groups of young people – primarily 12 and 13 years old — had been drinking to blackout, with a number treated for alcohol overdose at Children’s Hospital.

The youth admitted to hospital in September were fully assessed and wellness plans were put in place. Upon release from hospital, most of the youth went back to drinking. Since then, a few have individually attempted suicide and some have become involved in violent events.

Our children are still very much at risk and we are dismayed at the tepid level of longterm response from those mandated by various systems to care for our youth. The fast approaching holiday season – a time known to increase risk of suicide — will only add to their vulnerability.

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May 14, 2015: It’s Time to Care About Our Children

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For Immediate Release                       

May 14, 2015


It’s Time to Care About Our Children


Today B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth has released yet another report detailing the unnecessary and tragic death of a child. Sadly, this report once again chronicles the abject failure of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and its designated agencies and service partners, to provide protection to a child in need. There is nothing new here. These findings echo many other reports previously released by the Representative’s Office: When Talk Trumps Service, Lost in the Shadows, On Their Own, to name just a few.

Today we have been provided with a full investigation of how Paige, a young person in our community, died.  We are hearing of systems that failed to respond, ignored the lived reality of this child, and failed to embrace or explore the supports and options that could have provided a different outcome. This report documents that in the last years of Paige’s life these service systems dismissed attempts by relatives and community groups to change the trajectory the professionals were facilitating. Both official systems and collaborating service partners willfully ignored her downward spiral, passively documenting her descent. This failure ended with her death.

This tragedy strikes close to home. Paige was known and loved by many in this community. So for us there is anger, there is grieving, and there is horror at how this young girl’s life was lived. There is the guilt and self-questioning, wondering if we could have, should have done more.

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July 16, 2015: MCFD Continues to Endanger Our Children

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For Immediate Release

    July 16, 2015                 


MCFD Continues to Endanger Our Children

We Need Change now!

How many children have to be damaged or die before the BC government admits that the Ministry of Children and Family Development is irretrievably broken? Once again dangerous practices within the Ministry are being brought to light. And once again, the Ministry is failing to act. Children in British Columbia continue to be placed at risk by the very Ministry legally responsible for their safety.  When are we as adults going to stand up and demand an end to the Ministry’s reckless disregard of the obligation they hold on behalf of citizens of this province to protect our children?

In a blistering judgement from the BC Supreme Court, Judge Paul Walker has concluded that the Director of Child Protection and certain Ministry social workers “acted well outside of their statutory mandate and the duty to protect children”, citing “intentional misconduct, bad faith, reckless disregard for their obligation to protect children, breach of the applicable standard of care to unreasonably supporting the custodial interests of the children’s father even if it meant he sexually abused them.”  

In devastating detail, Judge Walker delineates actions which separated four children from their devoted and determined mother while trying to place them in the permanent care of a sexually abusive father. The mother’s reports of the abuse went uninvestigated while she was officially labelled as mentally unstable. The Director, Supervisor, and social workers omitted and misrepresented facts in a report to Provincial Court. Sexual abuse of the children continued when Ministry staff allowed the father unsupervised access to the children, defying a court order forbidding private access. 

For the past three years, residents and advocates from our community have been pressuring these same bureaucrats and professionals to respond to the needs of local children equally at risk. Their heartbreaking circumstances have been documented and brought to the attention of the Ministry and service providers directly and through the press – youth regularly ending up in emergency wards, some near death — victims of rape, alcohol and drug abuse. A number have considered or even tried suicide; some have succeeded.

We have pleaded with the Ministry to change the policies and practices which are seriously compromising the safety, well-being, and lives of these youth.

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May 1, 2014: The Children of Forgotten Promises

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The Children of Forgotten Promises

For Immediate Release: May 1, 2014

In response to the BC Representative for Children & Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s report, “On Their Own”, April 2014, Aboriginal Life In Vancouver Enhancement Society’s president, Ernie Crey, has praised the report as practical and says the report’s recommendations, if adopted, would help restore dignity and choice is supporting B.C.’s most vulnerable youth.”Making a healthy transition into adulthood, from government care, especially for urban Aboriginal youth here in this province’s largest city is something we should all get behind”. “The creation of a Youth Secretariat is long overdue and would help to align youth funding for better outcomes. And being accountable back to youth by using reliable research and measurements for success will benefit all British Columbians, as we support youth in government care”. And Crey believes we all have a responsibility to assist youth with housing, and encourage healthy relationships, educational plans, life skills, enhanced identity, and emotional well-being. He says that actively engaging youth in developing their own plans to independence is essential.

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Aug 4, 2015: MCFD Sidesteps Accountability We Need Action Now!

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 For Immediate Release                                                       

August 4, 2015

MCFD Sidesteps Accountability

  We Need Action Now!

Approximately two weeks after Judge Paul Walker issued a blistering judgement citing the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s Director of Child Protection and certain Ministry social workers for “intentional misconduct, bad faith, reckless disregard for their obligation to protect children, breach of the applicable standard of care” — and three years after Judge Walker issued an initial judgement in this case — the MCFD Minister, Stephanie Cadiuex, has decided that an investigation is in order.

Ignoring the fact that the province already employs a fully independent, appropriately mandated investigator: BC’s Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the Minister has decided to bring back retired bureaucrat Bob Plecas to lead what can only be called a half-hearted attempt to divert attention from their culpability and placate the political firestorm that has arisen from the publication of Judge Walker’s July 14th 2015 judgement.

Revictimizing the Victim

Vancouver Sun reporter Ian Mulgrew has now made public the fact that the Ministry is continuing to harass the family exonerated by Judge Walker – once again interviewing the children and seeking home visits. No Ministry support has been offered to the family and they have been forced in recent months to rely on food banks.

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