The elusive promise of reconciliation in British Columbia child welfare: Aboriginal perspectives and wisdom from within the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development
This article considers the unique challenge for Aboriginal professionals working in a government child welfare system responsible for the oppression of Aboriginal children, families and communities. A non-Aboriginal organizational insider researcher uses an Indigenous/ethnographic approach to explore these issues with Aboriginal professionals within the British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). This study involves a dual focus that examines the history, identity, values, motivations, and practice approaches of Aboriginal professionals as well as how organizational structural and environment variables support or impede their efforts toward critically needed improvements to child welfare services for Aboriginal children, youth, families and communities. Analysis of these two areas results in significant findings for the organization and its perceived inability to achieve progress with transforming service delivery for Aboriginal peoples. The findings contribute to better understanding of factors that impede Aboriginal professionals from achieving improved practice and outcomes. Organizational variables, such as low Aboriginal practice support, racism, cultural incompetence, hierarchical structure and decision making, risk-averse practice norms, poorly implemented or rhetorical change initiatives, and institutional physical environments impede the ability of Aboriginal professionals. However, significant mitigating factors were found to help, such as meaningful organizational support at the worksite level provided through dedicated culturally competent Aboriginal management and practice teams.