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CAS, Get Out!

September 23, 2013 permalink

The Six Nations band council wants Brant CAS off its territory by October 1. But CAS challenges the authority of the council. It's a good guess they will still be taking children through the autumn.



CAS off Six Nations by Oct. 1

A major issue seems to have derailed a carefully planned handoff of child protection services from the Brant Children's Aid Society to Six Nations band council.

Even though the 36-member native services branch of the CAS has a signed protocol allowing it to continue working on Six Nations until May 2014, the band council has decided that the agency must be off the reserve by Oct. 1.

But, according to documents provided to The Expositor by several sources, the Confederacy Chiefs have asked the agency to stay.

A letter to the CAS, Aaron Detlor, a lawyer and spokesman for the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, stated that band council has no authority or jurisdiction over the CAS and that the Confederacy Chiefs Council fears the sudden move of the agency will put their children at risk.

"At this time, the (Confederacy is) not in favour of seeing the Native Services Branch of Brant CAS removed ... such a displacement will endanger and threaten the well-being of at-risk children."

In response, Chief Coun. Bill Montour wrote to Detlor saying the chiefs had "failed to grasp the severity of the complex picture" surrounding the issue.

Montour said the community has expressed unhappiness with the CAS's satellite office, alluding to suicides and attempted suicides by people who were distressed by CAS decisions.

"Currently children's aid services seem to render our children to the status of commodities," said Montour, noting there's no working relationship between the CAS and the band.

But Montour noted the CAS will still provide protection services to the reserve - just not from its on-reserve office.

Andy Koster, CAS executive director, said he still hopes for negotiations before the Oct. 1 deadline.

"I have great respect for both Chief Montour and the Confederacy chiefs. We thought there was a pretty good relationship out on Six Nations with issues being addressed.

"Our board has voted unanimously on three occasions to approve the takeover of the process by Six Nations," Koster said.

The next part of the multi-stage process would be a six- to 12-month transition period that would include getting ministry approval, recruiting additional staff, providing training and finalizing a protocol. After that comes ministerial designation and an annual review.

Koster said that the rush to get his 36-member staff off the reserve could compromise the safety of Six Nations children since many issues haven't been arranged, including emergency service, calls about foster problems and access for court orders.

"It's my obligation to point this out because, first and foremost, I have to fight for the safety of children."

Koster wrote a long letter to the Confederacy chiefs.

"At the end of the day, moving skilled Six Nations child welfare workers off the territory before an operational replacement has been developed and put into place will make many Six Nations children less safe and the liability will shift to the elected council."

The Six Nations band councillors who voted last week to push the agency off Six Nations have different ideas how things will be handled in two weeks.

Coun. Darryl Hill, who voted to uphold the motion for the CAS to leave, said he believes Six Nations' own social service department can handle any child protection situations that arise.

"They're just as well-trained and diverse and the thought is that would be keeping it native. Most of the current CAS workers are native but not all of them."

Coun. Bob Johnson said he won't vote against the majority decision.

"I'm cautious and concerned about continuing the direct service of the CAS here."

Johnson noted that the CAS will still provide services on the reserve.

But Coun. Ross Johnson said a closer look at the situation is needed.

"I believe we need more due diligence on both sides to bring the parties together. We need to think of the children and look out for their best interests."

Source: Brantford Expositor