Indigenous adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Kamloops, or Secwépemc nation area, can now receive support and community inclusion services directly from an established Indigenous service provider, after a collaboration agreement was signed September 15, 2023.
The Memorandum of Understanding is between Secwépemc Child & Family Services Agency (SCFSA), a provider of services to urban Indigenous individuals, representing seven Indigenous bands in the Kamloops area, and Community Living BC (CLBC), a provincial crown agency that funds services for adults with intellectual disabilities. The agreement was celebrated in a ceremony that involved SCFSA dignitaries, CLBC leadership and the Minister Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. The ceremony was witnessed by Band Chiefs and council and community members, Elders, youths, families, SCFSA and CLBC staff.
“SCFSA is looking forward to this collaboration with CLBC, which will create Secwépemc-based, community-inclusion programs that serve our Secwépemc communities and urban Indigenous clients,” said Marshall Gonzales, SCFSA Board President.
“We are always looking to find new ways to meet the needs of the communities we serve and to better support clients with diverse abilities, and this agreement ensures that that they will be able to continue to access services they need, in the communities where they live, when they age out of the system, maintaining that vital connection to culture, community and family.”
“This agreement is important because it demonstrates how we can collaborate with Indigenous partners to create culturally appropriate relationships,” said Ross Chilton, CEO of Community Living BC. “At CLBC we’ve been building toward this milestone for years, by growing our Indigenous Relations team, and working with our Indigenous Advisory Committee and Elders Advisory Council to acknowledge the harms of our colonial past and work towards advancing reconciliation. Now we are partnering with SCFSA to build capacity for the Secwépemc nation to be self-determining over their programs, services, and policies.
The unique agreement ensures that each of the seven bands will have jurisdiction over how they want to receive CLBC funded services through SCFSA. The agency, a provincially delegated Indigenous Child & Family Service Agency, already provides full child protection, cultural, and prevention services for Indigenous children and youth in the area.
“We’re working to clear the path to remove barriers for people with disabilities”, said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. Her ministry oversees CLBC, which is providing funding initially for five people with complex needs, who have recently become adults. “Indigenous people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Kamloops can now stay in their own home communities, supported and surrounded by Secwépemc culture and teachings.” Minister Malcolmson also pointed out that this new agreement honours the government’s commitment under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Act.
The MOU will be supported through an ongoing monthly partnership committee made up of CLBC and SCFSA representatives which will oversee implementation, provide mentorship, develop policies and processes, and support conflict resolution. CLBC’s Indigenous Relations team will lead this work for CLBC, while regional operations staff will provide support for services and refer Indigenous individuals to SCFSA.
The value of the initial contract between CLBC and SCFSA is approximately $512,000.00 annually. This is expected to grow as more Indigenous adults, including members of the seven bands, and non-Metis Indigenous urban individuals living within this territory, opt to receive services from SCFSA. Five people have already begun receiving services, thanks to the agreement which is now in place.