With the help of an Elder’s blessing and performance by the Tzinquaw Dancers, the Parents Legal Centre in Duncan was officially opened Friday, September 13, 2019. The centre is a legal aid service that 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.
On behalf of Attorney General David Eby, Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean said, “Today’s opening is an important step for the province in our efforts to increase access to justice for all British Columbians. For too long too many families in BC haven’t been able to access the supports they need to navigate the legal system.”
Dean added that too often the parents in situations where a child is at risk of being removed from home are single mothers, Indigenous, and already facing barriers and living in poverty. “These centres will help them address fundamental needs and access support services that will help them to fulfil their parenting roles.”
The Ministry of Attorney General provides funding to the Legal Services Society (LSS), BC’s provider of legal aid, to run 10 Parents Legal Centres across the province.
The vice president of Indigenous Services at LSS, Gail Murray, noted that according to Ministry of Children and Family Development stats for December 2018, in the South Vancouver Island region, 468 children out of 734 in care were Indigenous.
Now fully operational after providing services since earlier this year, the Duncan Parents Legal Centre invited members of the community to learn more about how the centre can help.
The centre provides lawyer services, such as legal advice and representation at mediation and other collaborative meetings, and the assistance of an Indigenous 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.