Our new Parents Legal Centre in Campbell River held its grand opening event Thursday, July 11, 2019. The centre focusses on helping parents when a child is at risk of being removed from the family home or has been removed by social workers because of safety concerns. By addressing the issues related to the concerns, the centre hopes to keep more families together.
Now fully operational after providing services since earlier this year, the opening event invited members of the wider community to learn more about how the centre can help.
“We are demonstrating that there is a better way of helping families address child protection matters,” said lawyer Brian Dybwad, who manages the Parents Legal Centre in Campbell River. “Ideally, we provide that help early on -- when a social worker first contacts a family about concerns for a child’s safety, but we’re here for families no matter where they are in the process.”
Elders from the Wei Wai Kum, Wei Wai Kai, and Homalco First Nations blessed the centre during the event. Legal Services Society CEO Mark Benton spoke about the work that the society is doing to improve the experience of Indigenous people in the justice system, and North Island–Powel River MP Rachel Blaney said it was important to provide resources that help prevent Indigenous children from being separated from their families.
The Parents Legal Centre provides lawyer services, such as legal advice and representation at mediations and other collaborative meetings, and the help of an Aboriginal advocate who provides support throughout the process, including information, connecting parents to other services such as counselling, addictions treatment or housing, and advocating on their behalf. The centre is run by the Legal Services Society, BC’s legal aid provider, and funded by the Ministry of Attorney General. There are currently nine centres across the province.
The Parents Legal Centres are a response to the fact that of the children in care in BC, over 60% of them are Indigenous, and part of the society’s commitment to Reconciliation.