As part of Community Living British Columbia’s (CLBC) commitment to improving services to Indigenous communities throughout the province, we are creating a new director position to lead the Indigenous Community Living BC team. The new director will hire two additional Indigenous Practice Advisors to join current advisor Norah Drake in this important work.
This responds to recommendations made by CLBC’s Indigenous Advisory Committee and will build on work of the Quality Assurance team and Indigenous Practice Advisor to support CLBC staff to improve the accessibility and quality of services. The new team will report to CLBC CEO Ross Chilton.
The creation of a strengthened Indigenous Community Living BC team will also support priorities established in the Re-Imagining Community Inclusion consultation process to strengthen services available to Indigenous peoples and the government’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
“The CLBC Board of Directors believes this work is important,” says Michael J. Prince, Board Chair. “We respect and honour the Indigenous peoples we serve and want CLBC to work in partnership to advance inclusion of Indigenous people with disabilities.”
“Indigenous persons with disabilities often face significant and unique barriers that restrict their ability to be full and included members of our communities,” says Neil Belanger, member of the CLBC Indigenous Advisory Committee and Executive Director of the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS). “The expansion of the Indigenous team at CLBC is not only a recognition of those barriers, but also demonstrated commitment to, and respect for, Indigenous persons living with disabilities and the valuable contributions they bring daily. CLBC has set the bar for other provinces and territories to follow. I applaud this expanded commitment and look forward to our continued work with CLBC in the future.”
Since August 2014, CLBC has funded services within First Nations communities in B.C. thanks to an agreement reached with the federal government. CLBC staff can assist adults living in First Nations communities with the eligibility process and work in partnership with band offices when a service request is made. As of today, CLBC now serves more than 2,500 individuals who have self-identified as having Indigenous ancestry.
However, more work is required to establish relationships of trust and respect with the province’s more than 200 First Nations, to build awareness of services and to strengthen culturally safe and respectful services that reflect and respect Indigenous values and perspectives.
“Building on our 2014 agreement we have a unique opportunity to work hand in hand with First Nations around the province,” says Ross Chilton, CLBC CEO. “But this requires significant effort. We must build on our past work and invest in CLBC’s capacity for ongoing engagement and the development of culturally safe and respectful services.”
Work to date has included the hiring of an Indigenous Practice Advisor, Indigenous cultural awareness training for CLBC senior leadership and management, and work with local Indigenous communities, delegated Aboriginal agencies and other Indigenous organizations to establish working partnerships. In 2019, CLBC revised its strategic plan to further emphasize strengthening relationships with Indigenous peoples and ensuring services reflect Indigenous cultures and values.
The new director will create a team to help assess policies through an Indigenous lens, strengthen standards for culturally safe and competent service delivery and lead effective community engagement. CLBC expects to invite candidates to apply for the new position through a posting on its web site by the end of June.