Understanding the past to understand the future

There continues to be - how shall we put this - considerable curiosity concerning deputy minister Lesley du Toit and her approach to children and family development issues. So those looking for a better understanding of Ms. du Toit might be advised to attend the Reclaiming Youth Network's upcoming Vancouver Island seminars - which are scheduled to take place April 14 and 18 at the Harbour Towers Hotel. Those seminars include a session offering Responsible Ability Pathways training for attendees, providing "essential strength-based strategies for all who deal with young persons in family, school, or community." And understanding those strategies - whatever they are - could be important. Because Ms. du Toit is the co-author of Response Ability Pathways training and a former Reclaiming Youth International board member.


Don't waste your money attending this conference folks. To understand what Ms du Toit is all about you only need to look at who is no longer working at MCFD.

Who is NOT there anymore but also who is STILL there. Boggles the mind.

Will she be speaking at this conference? If so I'll pay money to listen but more to the point, to ask her some questions that need asking in public.

Like how come she receives an insane $2500 a month living allowance despite getting a salary of about $244,000 a year?

Too much pain to spend 1% of the salary on a condo around Michigan Street?

Good question Snivel Servant but I'm as interested in answers to the following:

1. Consultants were hired to do work more appropriately done by MCFD staff. When will we see the results of the consultations? How much has it cost to date?

2. We are all aware of the current approach to the work of MCFD as we have all received emails about this and have listened to talks on numerous occasions about the "vision". My question is when will senior management begin to walk the walk rather than just talk the talk? In other words when does senior management intend to make the "vision" reality with regard to their own values and behaviour?

3. When does senior management intend to INSIST that the ADM of Human Resources get down to work and confirm our positions?

We know first hand what mcfd senior management is about and our curiousity has more to do with how they managed to get hired to begin with.

Maybe those working within the bureaucracy do not understand what is happening because so many of them want to maintain the status quo and continue doing crappy business as usual. As an Aboriginal young person who has dealt with the old system, worked at the grassroots level with other youth leaders to create change, and has been immersed in all things solution- oriented with respect to the well-being of Aboriginal youth, I understand and feel hope at what Ms. Du Toit is working towards and talking about and that’s what matters most. I met her at the Friendship Centre where she sat in on our youth conference and talked to us on her work in South Africa, and everyone was so inspired at what she was creating there. When she decided to work here, I knew the children and youth in BC had an innovative and creative ally. Not surprising, she is highly respected by so many Aboriginal leaders, grassroots activists, and people I look up to as inspiring change-makers like Dr Martin Brokenleg who runs the Reclaiming Youth Network, where Leslie also contributes her time. Only a few people in the ministry have this type of outreach and respect. For those of us like Leslie who live and breathe for the well-being of children and youth, we are a tight community that the Ministry seldom visits. We know who is doing good work…everyone else is an invisible 9-5er. Keep up your grumblings, its not you whom this change is for. It’s for the youth.


You assert that the "Ministry seldom visits" your "tight community". Let us hope that with Lesley's focus on Aboriginal issues these days and with Deb's staff now on board in the Provincial Office, your concerns will be quickly addressed. One would have to think that this is the case given Lesley's singular focus on Aboriginal issues. She might do a much finer job, however, if Aboriginal issues were her only focus and she put into practice her vision rather than just talking about it.

Your assertion that people in the ministry want to maintain the status quo and that their work is "crappy" is wrong and it's insulting. It's also the excuse used by senior management when they blame others for their own bad management practices.

So, what you are saying is that it's okay for senior management to treat anyone not considered a "youth" with disrespect and that if there are grumblings about it it's only because those grumblers want to hold on to......what?

Let us hope, "Chiefette", that one day you will be able to refer to yourself as "Chief" rather than an ".....ette" anything! THAT would be significant progress.

Chiefette, have you checkout out the child/youth welfare system in South Africa lately?

It never ceases to amaze me that natives talk about self-government and self-rule extensively and right up until the point where social issues and children come into light and then all of the sudden it becomes a Provincial problem.

My recommendation to Chiefette is that the local band councils take some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in payments and settlement money they have received and spread it around their own communities for a change.

Try walking in my shoes for a day and you’ll see how the current system in place is broken and you’ll know what real problems are. There are larger injustices out there then disrespected feelings. All I hear here is disregard and ignorance towards those of us not working within the ministry and how all the expertise is in place already… who needs outsiders! If you were so concerned about respect, I wouldn’t be reading all this smack against Leslie, and now towards my vision and hope. Meaningful change takes time, and it took 500 years of a racist government system to breakdown all the positive social elements of the native community, and I can accept that even in my lifetime, that REAL change may not be felt until my children’s children time. Does anyone not understand that? A new foundation is being built…we’re not fixing a few cracks in the wall…a new structure needs to be created from the ground up and its one step – one brick at a time. However, if you feel like things aren’t moving fast enough…perhaps with all of your expertise you can create this revolutionary change that we all hope for with the snap of a finger? The problem with people like Innocent Bystander is they see things so ‘us and them’. Its natives against Canadians with that last comment. If something is as damaged as the current MCFD system and Aboriginal children happen to be also suffering a great deal because of it…and its never been a matter of us natives talking about self-rule until it becomes too much of a problem… Children are children, everyone should have been on board to make sure they were afforded a proper quality of life to begin with. I’m insulted…until you work your heart and soul for the betterment of children and youth, don’t go talking about how my leaders should be spending money…shame on you for making that the issue. But then again, your so smart, and I know nothing.

'All I hear here is disregard and ignorance towards those of us not working within the ministry and how all the expertise is in place already… who needs outsiders! '

Really? That's all you hear? Hmmmm. That is definitely not what I hear. I hear support for Aboriginal Social and Child Welfare services where Aboriginals deliver those services to their communities and it is widespread across the ministry. I don't know any staff in the ministry - it's a very big one with about 5,000 employees - who don't support this initiative. On the contrary, the initiative is supported by staff and we want to see it succeed.

Many of us also support self government. We think you know better than us what you need and it's good to know that you feel strongly about this. That passion will contribute to getting things done.

At the same time, we don't consider the current Leadership at MCFD to have the experience to get it done. THAT is a very big problem. Big projects demand big hearts and big courage and the ability to share tasks with many people working on making things happen, not just a favoured few. There is too much secrecy, negativity and paranoia and blaming of others at the Senior Leadership level to ensure success.

I for one don't want you to lose hope but I think that you need to see things a bit more clearly and always ask yourself a very important question when analyzing an issue: "who benefits". In your own communities of Aboriginal people working on these issues, "who benefits"? Take a look around at the meetings in which you participate and ask yourself "who benefits".

You may not like what you see but perhaps you'll see things a bit more clearly. Follow the money to find some answers to the question of "who benefits" and hold THOSE people accountable too.

In the meantime, those of us working on the front lines will continue to do everything possible within to keep children safe - not an easy thing to do in a system that provides us with very little respect.

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