Greeted by a welcome song and an Elders blessing, community members gathered in Surrey on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 to attend the open house of the Parents Legal Centre.
The centre provides support to parents when a child is at risk of being removed from the family home or has been removed by social workers because of safety concerns. By addressing the underlying issues related to the safety concerns, the centre hopes to keep more families together.
In operation since February 2018, the centre invited members of the community to learn more about their services and how they can help.
The event was attended by local MPs, Surrey Provincial Court Judges, Semiahmoo First Nation Chief, local Elders and community partners.
Indigenous Services Manager Katrina Harry said, “The involvement and support of community partners is important as we create a network to help those who are marginalized and in crisis.”
Harry added that many parents can be intimidated by the legal system. “These centres will support parents by providing services to help them address their child protection matters in a safe and comfortable space.”
The Parents Legal Centre uses a team approach that includes intake staff, an advocate and a staff lawyer to provide legal advice, representation at court, at mediations and other collaborative meetings.
The centres are available to anyone who is eligible, but have an Indigenous focus because 63% of children in care in BC are Indigenous.
Parents Legal Centres are run by the Legal Services Society and funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General. There are currently ten centres across the province.