Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services is officially opening its doors to Indigenous families living in Nanaimo with the grand opening of our Prideaux Street location on January 16th.
Since November, Kw’umut Lelum has been providing support to Member Nation families in Nanaimo, some of whom transferred over from the Ministry in November and December. As services and programs become more familiar to Indigenous families in Nanaimo, we are expecting to see demand grow exponentially.
The building at 233 Prideaux Street will house a team of Social Workers, Family Support Workers, Child and Youth Care Workers and admin staff. The site provides a family friendly environment with culturally-integrated services to strengthen Member Nation families.
“Before our expansion into urban services, many of our members who live in and around Nanaimo were not able to access the same level of supports as those offered to families living in Member Nations.” says Executive Director William Yoachim. “Not only is this a move towards equal access, but it signals a significant shift towards returning the rights to Indigenous communities to care for their own children. It is a step towards reconciliation and the self-determination of First Nations”.
The expansion into urban services in Nanaimo is the first phase of a larger initiative for Kw’umut Lelum to be able to offer culturally-informed services to all of our members regardless of where they live. With more than 20 years of service within Member Nation communities, Kw’umut Lelum has a notable track record of preventing children from coming in to care and keeping them connected to their families, culture and communities. However, with more than 70 percent of the Indigenous population living in urban areas “off-reserve” many of our Member Nation families have not been able to benefit from this Indigenous-led approach to family services.
“Kw’umut Lelum has a unique approach that is completely counter to the trends of child welfare in Canada. We work hard to keep children with their families – nearly half of all of the children on our caseload are currently living with a parent or relative, including those in what would be considered to be foster care. “ says Yoachim.
On hand at the Grand Opening event were Minister of Child and Family Development Katrine Conroy, Scott Saywell from Nanaimo Ladysmith School District 68, representatives from VIU, Nanaimo city council, and KL Board.