The Times Colonist's editorial page described it as a "long overdue management overhaul." But not everyone is pleased to see the back of Lesley du Toit, whose controversial five-year reign as the bureaucratic head of the ministry of children and family development came to an abrupt end earlier this month. On March 4 - just ten days before it was revealed Ms. du Toit had been replaced by the new Clark administration - the British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres feted her during an event at a traditional aboriginal big house near the Royal British Columbia Museum.
In an interview with Public Eye, the association's executive director Paul Lacerte explained the intent of the honouring feast was to "stand up for individuals in the ministry of children and families that we have felt have done a lot to advance the aboriginal agenda" - adding that three other bureaucrats were also invited to the ceremony.
"We observed some protocols in there and had a big feast and then blanketed them with traditional Cowichan woven blankets and gifted those blankets to them," he explained.
Mr. Lacerte said it wasn't "clear" at the time the ceremony took place that Ms. du Toit was on her way out. Although members of the children and family services community had speculated about her departure - in part, because of the deputy's troubled relationship with the province's independent child protection watchdog Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.
Mr. Lacerte acknowledged, "I don't think that dynamic helped any of us. But notwithstanding that there was a clash of two matriarchs, we'll certainly miss Lesley." The reason: "it's been rare that we've had such a strong advocate for aboriginal issues at the deputy minister level."
Mr. Lacerte said aboriginal friendship centres across the province have held similar events to "try to create a different tone" between the ministry of children and family and indigenous peoples, recognizing bureaucrats who have "showed a willingness to think and act differently as it relates to our people."