New office to support mid-island Indigenous families and children in need

By Spencer Sterritt
January 17, 2019 - 10:01am

Kw'umut Lelum executive director Bill Yoachim passing a blanket to minister Katrine Conroy.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — Indigenous families and children in the Nanaimo-area will now be able to find the help they need under the umbrella of one organization. 

Kw'umut Lelum Child and Family Services officially opened a new office on Wednesday, Jan. 16 which is specifically for assisting urban members of the nine Indigenous bands they serve. The dedicated space for social, support and youth care workers is expected to provide the same service as off-reserve members receive, which is who Kw'umut Lelum was solely helping until late 2017. 

Board member Daniel Norris, who's a counsellor for Halalt First Nation, told NanaimoNewsNOW the space will be a hub for urban members and those who've come to the Island from across B.C. and Canada. 

"All of our children come from all over," he said. "With a place like this, we can bring resources to share their culture, history and ties with family living here. That's really important for our children today to know who they are."

The Ministry of Child and Family Development previously handled the files for urban Indigenous residents. When it was announced they'd cede roughly 60 files to Kw'umut Lelum, a lack of Indigenous services and opportunities being provided was reference by staff. 

"Kw'umut Lelum has a unique approach that is completely counter to the trends of child welfare in Canada," a release from the organization said. "We work hard to keep children with their families-nearly half of all the children on our caseload are currently living with a parent or relative." 

Norris said mid-island band members would have benefited greatly if they'd been given the opportunity to provide care much earlier. 

"We've lost a lot of children in the cities because they didn't have a place like this. Now they have a place to come and find out what they're looking for."

 

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