A ceremonial blessing this morning (Aug. 23) was fitting for the Parents Legal Centre (PLC) in Prince George.
Lheidli T’enneh Elder Violet Bozoki cleansed those who were in attendance at the organization’s 10th location in B.C., who have been operating for a couple of months before today’s official grand opening, as the centre has an Indigenous focus on providing its services.
.@HostFirstNation Elder Violet Bozoki performs a cleansing at official opening of Parents Legal Centre in Prince George. The organization helps parents when a child is at risk of being removed from the family | #CityOfPG @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/bfiP7IdCXm— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) August 23, 2019
The purpose of the PLC is to provide representatives to parents whose children who are at risk of being removed from their families or their home.
According to Gail Murray, Vice-President of Indigenous Services with the Legal Services Society, there are hundreds of children in the north central region who are in care as a result of these incidences.
“The PLC is our response to the crisis levels of children in care in B.C., particularly Indigenous children,” said Murray, who adds 83 per cent of those regional children are indigenous. “Prince George was identified as a location where we could potentially make an impact, by assisting parents in finding ways to keep their families together, whenever possible.”
Prince George’s Parent Legal Centre services families ranging from Quesnel to Mackenzie. According to #bcpoli MCFD, as of Dec. 31, 2018, 514 north central B.C. children were in care & 423 of them were indigenous | #CityOfPG @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/HQRAOuAgYs— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) August 23, 2019
Situations vary when a child is taken away by social workers, but the majority of circumstances are claims of safety concerns.
PLC’s philosophy is having representation for those families in court, mediation, and other meetings and connect parents to other potential services should the situation call for it.
This includes counselling, addictions treatment, or housing if the environment where the child is living is deemed unsafe.
Right now, 63 per cent of children in care across all of B.C. are Indigenous.
PG Parents Legal Centre has been operating for ‘several months’ now & services are available to anyone who qualifies. Indigenous families occupy 63% of the organization’s focus when it comes to child protection | #CityOfPG @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/uh6UAa93xd— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) August 23, 2019
Other northern B.C. locations include Terrace, Smithers, and Williams Lake.
Prince George’s facility aids families ranging from Quesnel to Mackenzie and Fort St. James to Valemount.