Alysha Brown is a team leader for Surrounded by Cedar, a delegated Aboriginal Agency in Victoria. (Province of British Columbia)

B.C. honours social workers during Social Work Week

Contributions of thousands of social workers throughout B.C. celebrated from March 10 to 16

Social workers have some of the most challenging jobs in the province, and Social Work Week, from March 10 to 16, is about honouring the tremendous contribution the thousands of social workers throughout B.C. make in the lives of British Columbians.

For social worker Alysha Brown, integrating and honouring culture is a huge part of her job – and her own personal journey.

“I’ve been on a journey for about 15 years to reconnect with my culture,” said Brown, the team leader at Surrounded by Cedar Child and Family Services, a delegated Aboriginal agency in Victoria. “My mother is Swampy Cree from northern Manitoba and was adopted at a young age. My father is English. I was very much disconnected from family, community and culture and moved around a lot as a child.”

Brown is heartened by changes she sees happening around child welfare in B.C.

“I consider this a really exciting time, potentially. It’s a shift in the way we practise Indigenous child welfare,” said Brown, who is now working on a master’s degree in Indigenous social work. “There are new amendments to the Child, Family and Community Services Act as well as the implementation of the Aboriginal Policy and Practice Framework. The Province is doing the work to begin to change the landscape. It hasn’t always been this way.”

ALSO READ: Liberals table ‘historic’ Indigenous child welfare bill

There are 23 delegated Aboriginal agencies in B.C.

Surrounded by Cedar in Victoria, where Brown works, is one of three that serve a primarily urban population. The agency received delegations in 2002 to offer services to children in care, voluntary support services and to recruit and approve foster homes.

“We hold our social workers accountable to get culturally specific, which means we expect them to learn about the cultural heritage of the kids in their care and ensure that the kids’ foster caregivers are aware of it and nurturing their cultural identities as much as possible,” said Brown. “We view Indigenous people from a place of empowerment and resiliency. That slight shift in perspective can make a big difference in how we work with Indigenous children and families.”

In the last two years, Brown said, they’ve successfully reunited five children with their families, which “may seem like a small number,” but she assures that it is major progress over the past.

Indigenous children account for 52.2 per cent of children in foster care in private homes, according to 2016 census data.

“Historically, ongoing and regular access for families was rarely encouraged after a continuing care order was granted, let alone reunification being considered as a viable permanent option for children in government care,” said Brown.

ALSO READ: UVic launches historic Indigenous law program

Brown’s own healing has come from her immersion in the urban Indigenous community, including her involvement in a Victoria drum group called the All Nations Strong Women for Education and Reconciliation (ANSWER).

The work Brown does at Surrounded by Cedar and the weekly drum group share the common goal of creating better outcomes for Indigenous children, families and communities, she said.

In February 2019, the Ministry of Children and Family Development broadened the acceptable education and experience requirements for front-line child protection positions in order to increase diversity, based on a recommendation in Grand Chief Ed John’s report on Indigenous child welfare in British Columbia. It also boosted the pay for child protection workers which will take effect in April.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Greater Victoria enjoys sunny first day of spring

Summer-like temperatures of 21 degrees hit Wednesday for first day of spring

Bitter Saturna land-use dispute highlights legal grey areas

Unhappy Tsawout accuse leadership of cultural destruction

West Shore RCMP reminds vehicle owners to lock it or lose it

Numerous complaints of vehicles rifled through in View Royal

Spring break nature walks – get the kids out into nature!

Spring break, CRD Regional Parks naturalists are hosting three guided nature walks

VIDEO: Can you believe it? This B.C. hill pulls cars backwards up a slope

Sir Isaac Newton had clearly never been to this Vernon anomaly when he discovered gravity

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

View Royal council to discuss proposed 3.5% tax increase tonight

Budget open house to directly precede the council meeting

Canucks hang on for 7-4 win over Senators

Horvat nets 2 for Vancouver

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Most Read