When is a scandal not a scandal?

Back in June, Public Eye reported rumours of scandal and financial mismanagement circulating around the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society. When asked about those rumours, children and family development communications director Deborah Bowman said, "We don't have a scandal or anything like what you started your conversation with. It's certainly not that...We've identified some issues (at the society). We want to help them through their financial management. And we're working in total partnership with them." Well, apparently, this non-scandal has forced society executive director and former senior provincial bureaucrat Stan Paranteu to resign, say community insiders, as well as every single member of its board of directors.

At least some of those board members have been instructed not to speak with the media - which could explain why interim executive director Walt Rupert told Public Eye "I have no comments to make about (the resignations) whatsoever...And that's as much as I'm prepared to say. I would direct you to Jeremy Berland." Mr. Berland, who is currently on vacation, is an assistant deputy minister at children and family development. In fact, the society is so tight-lipped about the non-scandal that even their Website isn't talking (although that may not have anything to do with the resignations).

So far, the Ministry of Children and Family Development has said it won't publicly release the final results of an operational review into the society. However, Public Eye has filed a freedom of information request to obtain the review.

The following is a list of the directors who have reportedly resigned from the society, as displayed in a Google cached copy of its Website.

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Carole Patrick-President

Carole Patrick has been the President of Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (VACFSS) since December 1999. She is of Metis descent, her ancestors being the original Red River Settlers of Manitoba. She graduated with a Criminology degree from S.F.U. in 1979, and a Master of Arts and Applied Behavioural Sciences degree from Bastyr University, Seattle, Washington in 1995. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Institute of Seattle. Carole is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and family therapist in Private Practise, and currently working towards completing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Carol was previously a child-in-care in Manitoba and knows first hand the experiences that many children face while in the care of the state. Carole has one Adult son.

Over the past 25 years, Carole's experience includes: Coordinator for Special Services to Children in Maple Ridge, developing a community based mental health housing outreach program in Vancouver, as well as participating as a member of the Provincial Review Panels in Mental Health for over 9 years in Vancouver.

In the capacity as Panel Member, she was required to conduct in depth mental health assessments to determine the readiness of patients to become decertified from a provincial hospital under the Mental Health Act.

She held the position of Executive Director for Big Brothers of Burnaby for 6 years, during which time she developed and implemented services and programs for single parent families in Burnaby. Lastly, she worked as a co-therapist in a spousal assault program for court mandated clients in the Forensic Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic in Vancouver, as well as a providing individual counselling to clients deemed not guilty by reason of mental illness.
Carole has been deeply honoured to have been chosen by the community to work with VACFSS through these exciting times, as our agency progresses through to Level 15 delegation. She is also deeply honoured to have received the support of the Board Members and agency staff in her position of President throughout the past two years. She has made a commitment to the Board and the agency staff, to provide unfaltering leadership and support as together they work towards implementing the DEA.

She has found her experience to be challenging and rewarding. She is very happy to play a leadership role at this very important time in history. She has seen VACFSS through the development, signing and implementation of the first Delegation Enabling Agreement in an Urban setting. She recognizes the importance of the DEA signing as not only historical but also a step forward for the whole aboriginal community.

Carole expresses her appreciation to the staff of VACFSS, for there dedication through the tremendous growth and change in the agency. The staff and board have demonstrated a strong sense of commitment to the principal that aboriginal people need to provide services to aboriginal people.

Joy Ward-Vice President

Joy describes herself as a "Coastal Cree". Her birth mother was Cree from Saskatchewan and she was born in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. She was adopted by the Haida Nation.

Joy has a 27-year old daughter and a 7-year old grandson and equally proudly states that she has an adopted 4-year old dog.

Joy has worked for 23 years uninterrupted service with the BC government in various Ministries including Finance, Education, Social Services and the Attorney General's Department (this work was in the Children's Commission complaints and fatality investigation department); 2 years as a member of the Children's Commission Multi-disciplinary team that reviewed fatality reports; 3 years in Aboriginal Health; 10 years teaching public school; 4 years mediating; 4 years counselling adult male survivors of Residential School abuse (on a contract with Ottawa Family Services); experience working for the Vancouver Aboriginal Problem Gambling Program; 3 years experience as a Commissioner on the Metis Commission for Children and Families.

Joy was adopted at age of 5 years to a non-native family in Victoria where she was raised. Joy was separated from here siblings and it wasn't until many years later that she was able to reconnect with her siblings and her mother.

As often as Joy can she, and for finding balance in her life, Joy enjoys her "cycletherapy" (riding her Harley) and participating in traditional ceremonies and celebrations.

John Jardine-Secretary

John Jardine is a member of the Red Rock Band-Lake Helen's Reserve in Northern Ontario. At the age of 2.5 he and his three siblings were removed from their parents and placed up for adoption. At the age of 5 he was cross-culturally adopted into a family that had already adopted 3 other children, who were considered to be hard to place children due to age and ethnicity (2 siblings are of Negro ancestry and 1 other sibling was of First Nations status). Prior to being adopted John was moved at a minimum of 7 times in a short 2.5 year span, though I have been told this figure of moves is much higher. In his teen years his adopted parents had their first biological child. At the age of 21 he actively searched out his Birth family and had a successful reunion and relationship with both parents until their early deaths. John has connected with his three siblings and is in the process of developing relationships and connections with other family members. John has a close relationship with both his adopted family as well as his biological family.

John received his Bachelor of Indian Social Work from the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College in 1988 and is currently completing his Masters in Social Work from the University of British Columbia and will be convocating in November 2002. In his undergraduate studies he had the opportunity to do a Field Placement with the Mapuche Indians in Chile (during Martial Law under Pinochet) doing community development for six months. John has previously worked as a Front Line Child Protection Officer for the Ministry for Children and Families for 6 years, working at the Aboriginal Team, a Family Service Team and the Intake and Assessment Team. From there John moved onto work with the Federal government with the Department of Indian Affairs, as a Social Development Specialist servicing the Bands in the southern part of the province for two years. John has also been an Executive Director of an urban Aboriginal Child Welfare agency, as well as the Executive Director of a provincial Aboriginal Foster Parent Support Federation.

Currently John is a caregiver for a non-aboriginal special needs individual through the Community Living Society. Prior to working with Community Living Society John was a foster parent (7 years) and owner/operator of a Group Home in the United States for Special Needs Adults and Children. "I would say that out of all the jobs I have had in my life-the most rewarding and satisfying has been as a foster parent-though it has contributed to my increase in grey hair!"

Alvin Dixon-Board Member

Alvin is a member of the Heiltsuk Nation, Waglisla, BC (Bella Bella). He has been married twice and has 4 biological children and 2 adopted children. As well Alvin is a grandparent of 4 grandchildren.

Alvin attended UBC in 1960 studying English and Geography. He returned in 1963 and completed the Teacher Training program-Education.

Alvin has had a varied work experience form working in a Fish Cannery, as a Fisherman, Fish Company Manager, Fish Company Loans Manager, Teacher, was an International Salmon Commissioner, Negotiator, Parole Board Member (1998-2002). As well Alvin sits on a number of provincial committees and community Boards. He is also a trustee/senator with two colleges.

Alvin has a deep commitment to Aboriginal child welfare and this has been demonstrated not only by the fact that he has fostered 4 teenagers, adopted 2 First Nations children as well as counselled many "at risk" teens in many local and provincial High Schools.

"People involved in First Nations politics are usually more self-serving than committed to the well-being of children at risk-people and communities need to get involved1"

Flora Raynes-Board Member

Flora is a single parent of a teenage boy-who is her pride and joy. Flora is a member of the Shuswap Nation but has resided in Vancouver for a number of years.

Flora has worked for Native Courtworkers for many years and is well known both at Criminal Court and Youth Court. Flora has assisted many youth and families through the Court process, and has earned great respect by not only her clients but also the professionals involved from Social Workers to Lawyers, Crown Counsel and Judges.

Flora has been active in the Vancouver Aboriginal community for many years. She has been on the Board of Directors for the past 5 years and has been actively involved in many cultural and ceremonial activities in Vancouver.

Margaret Webber-Board Member

In 1979 Margaret Webber was awarded and recognized as "Mother of the Year" by the Government of BC, and the then Minister Grace McCarthy bestowed this prestigious award upon Margaret Webber. Margaret started fostering children at the age of 15 prior to being married and has fostered children for over 50 years. Over 59 children have passed through her doors.

Margaret Webber (nee Nelson) originally comes from 2uatsino, her father was George Nelson and her mother was Sarah Nelson. She comes from a large family (6 brothers and 3 sisters) all of whom are deceased. As a result of this, Margaret has become substitute parent to her many nieces and nephews.

Margaret married Andrew Webber, and transferred her band membership to the Bella Coola Band, which she is a member of. Margaret and Andrew moved to Port Alice where her husband worked at the local mill. Margaret continued to be a housewife and foster parent. Margaret and her husband had 7 children, however fostering 59 children would deservingly be considered not only "Mother of the Year" but also probably "Mother of the Decade". Margaret is currently a widow, as her husband passed away a few years ago. Margaret moved to Vancouver and continued to foster, in fact she was the house parent of the Mamale Benevolent Group Home, when VACFSS was in its infancy.

Margaret is an Elder and continues to foster. She takes great pride in her culture and traditions and has passed on this information to her many foster kids. The kids continue to be involved in her life and during the summer months, many of them return to visit her, keeping her summer months very occupied. Margaret credits her strength, commitment and dedication to her children to her faith. "The best job with the greatest rewards and joys has been fostering."

Minnie Humchitt Kullman-Board Member

Minnie was born in Bella Bella, BC daughter of Leslie and Emma Humchitt; she is the second of six children. Minnie is proud to say that she comes from a long line of hereditary chiefs of the Heiltsuk Nation, her late father's name was Chief Wig Vilga Wakas (Eagle nose of the great river) the name was passed on to her brother Harvey Humchitt.

Minnie's professional career began at Capilano College studying family law and taking various courses at the Justice Institute of British Columbia, also took a practical nurse course at Vancouver Vocational Institute.

In 1977, Minnie initiated her career working with children and families for Native Court Workers, advocating for First Nations people in the family courts and juvenile system. Following the Native Court Workers Minnie worked as a cultural enrichment worker at the Vancouver School Board. Her responsibilities were educating aboriginal children with their identity and traditions and researching history of First Nations people across Canada.

Minnie's also gained valuable experience in the area of Bill C-31 which brought her across the Province assisting and facilitating workshops for Aboriginal women, men and children who lost their status through marriage or enfranchisement. This accomplishment was rewarding because it enabled Aboriginal women to regain their true identity as First Nations people.

In 1978, Minnie was one of the founding members of the Native Police Liaison Program that is still in existence today. Minnie's has also been involved with the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre (VAFCS) movement since her teen days as a basketball player. After a while, Minnie was elected as a board member both locally and provincially and she personally involved in the naming of the rooms of the VAFCS. The naming of the rooms was a memorable experience at VAFCS; this was to honour and respect the original founding members.

Minnie was elected as a Director of the Vancouver Aboriginal Child & Family Services Society in September 2001, and she is pleased to say that she has been involved in exciting changes with the MCFD and the recent signing of the Tsawassen Accord. Minnie presently sits on the working committee on Governance for pending Aboriginal Regional Authority.

Minnie is a proud mother of one daughter and extra proud grandma of three grandchildren. Minnie's objective is to continue carrying on the work to make a difference for all First Nations children and their families.

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