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

Green New Deal meeting in Sooke part of a larger movement

Humanity has 4,000 days left before it will be too late

Small crews battle ravenous invasive bullfrogs that gobble up native species

American bullfrogs diet includes smaller native frogs, local salamanders and songbirds

Council pursues water line extension for north Sooke

Properties affected by Highway 14 project may see water service

Jeff Montgomery claims another Strawberry Cup at Western Speedway

Langford-based Montgomery family has deep roots at the track

Verdict expected on July 22 in trial of care aide accused of sexual assault

Closing arguments heard Monday in Victoria courtroom

Raptors announcer credited with calming massive crowd after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Women sue former Vancouver cop over alleged sexual abuse during pimp case

Two women claim James Fisher caused psychological trauma during the Reza Moazami investigation

First ever Indigenous person to join the RCMP to be honoured in B.C.

Hawk Kelly said becoming a Mountie was his dream job as a kid

Sexting teens at risk of harms including depression, substance use: study

Use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana were also found to be associated with sexting

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

International Trade Minister Jim Carr described the decision as ‘very significant’

Dash-cam video in trial of accused B.C. cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Most Read