Understanding Aboriginal child protection/removal matters

BC law says that if a child's safety is at risk the Ministry of Children and Family Development (or an Aboriginal delegated agency) must look into it. If the ministry believes that your child is at risk, they must:

This process is called child protection.

Important: If a social worker from the ministry contacts you or visits your home, this means that they think your child might be at risk and are looking into it. This is part of the child protection process. (This is also called an investigation.) An investigation is very serious. It may result in the social worker taking your child from your home.

You have the right to get legal advice. Call Legal Aid immediately to find out of you qualify for a free lawyer.

Legal Aid
604-408-2172
(Greater Vancouver)
1-866-577-2525 (no charge outside Greater Vancouver)

Ask your lawyer or social worker about getting an Aboriginal child protection mediator to help with your case.

BC law also says that:

  • Aboriginal cultural ties are very important to the well-being of Aboriginal children.
  • When the ministry makes plans for an Aboriginal child's care, the ministry should respect the child's family ties and Aboriginal identity.
  • the community should be involved whenever possible in the planning and delivery of services. This includes preventative and support services.
  • Your child's cultural identity must be considered when determining their best interests.

What you can do if the ministry investigates you for a child protection matter

Call Legal Aid

If a social worker from the ministry or an Aboriginal delegated agency contacts you or visits your home to ask you questions about your family, this means that they think your child might be at risk and are looking into it. You have the right to get legal advice. Call Legal Aid immediately to find out if you qualify for a free lawyer:
604-408-2172 (Greater Vancouver)
1-866-577-2525 (no charge outside Greater Vancouver)

See Who can help for more information on how to get a lawyer and the other resources available to you.

Ask for a mediator

A mediator can help you work with the ministry. A mediator is a professional who's specially train to:

  • not take sides,
  • help people reach an agreement, and
  • help people work out conflicts.

You can ask for a mediator as soon as the social worker has contacted you. You can also ask at any time during the child protection process.

Mediation is free for families that are involved with the ministry. Mediators can travel to remote communities.

What you can do if the ministry removes your child from your home

If the ministry takes your child from your home, you can:

  • Get a lawyer before the day of court. Call Legal Aid immediately to find out if you qualify for a free lawyer.
  • Ask for visits with your child
  • Work out a plan with your band or community that supports your child's family ties and Aboriginal identity
  • Ask to have your child placed with another Aboriginal family
  • Ask for a mediator
  • Ask for the Report to Court, which explains why your child was removed

What the ministry must do if it removes your child from your home

If the ministry takes your child from your home, it must:

  • Notify your child's Aboriginal community representative (such as the First Nation's band)
  • Take steps to preserve your child's family ties and Aboriginal identity when choosing a foster home

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What your Aboriginal representative can do if the ministry removes your child from your home

If the ministry takes your child from your home, your Aboriginal representative can:

  • Receive all records and information pertaining to your case
  • Speak at the child protection hearing
  • Call witnesses and question other witnesses
  • Take part in any mediation
  • Ask about ways to get you help

Find out more

The following resources may be of help to you and your family:

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