FVACFSS – Fall 2018 Newsletter


Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children & Family Services Society

Fall 2018 Newsletter

Message from the Board of Directors


Left to right: Tammy Bartz, Angelina Gosselin, Helen Joe, Peter John, Marion Mussell, Sheradon Roberts, Billi Jo Pike, Dianne Garner, Paula Olmstead.

Welcome to our new quarterly newsletter, one of several ways we are improving how we, the Board of Directors at FVACFSS and the agency, communicate to our stakeholders and partners. We will be letting you know about news and changes, about cultural programs we are offering, and generally just letting everyone know what we’ve been up to. Please share with anyone you think may be interested or encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter on our website: www.fvacfss.ca/our-organization.

Our Vision, Mission and Principles

In June the Board of Directors reviewed the vision, mission and principles of the Society. We made a few minor changes to the language, but remain committed to our vision of advancing our inherent right to provide a healthy, safe and nurturing environment for all our Indigenous children and families living without our xaxa témexw te Stó:lō. For more information on our vision, mission and core values, please visit our website: www.fvacfss.ca/our-organization.

Strategic Priorities for Governance and Operations

During a Board strategic planning session in June 2018 the Board established two categories of goals for the Agency: 1) Governance goals which are strategic priorities the Board wishes to achieve regarding the Board’s work and functioning; and 2) Operations Oversight Goals which are strategic priorities the Board wishes to see achieved by FVACFSS Operations, and which will be implemented by the Executive Director.

The Board also developed four broad goals that include: 1) continuing to improve Board Governance through development of policies and processes; 2) developing processes for operations oversight and maintaining our relationship with the executive leadership team; 3) strengthening board visibility through improved communications about the work of the board; and 4) enhancing the role of culture in the work of the board.

In terms of our operations oversight goals we are committed to ensuring a culturally vibrant work place where employees are engaged; creating sound human resources and financial management processes and procedures; building relationships with our communities; strengthening our delegated programs; and enhancing our family strengthening programs.

To date, we held a successful Annual General Meeting last November and are scheduling another one for this fall. We also held several honouring ceremonies for staff, elders and the executive leadership team of Rod Spitzig and Nazeem Ratanshi. Additionally, we have updated our bylaws and made improvements to our website. We are also now on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Xyolhemeylh) and Twitter (@Xyolhemeylh) and would be delighted if you signed up to follow us on those platforms.

Thank you to all our stakeholders, partners and staff for your support in helping us achieve our goals.

The Board of Directors
Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children & Family Services Society

Smίmeyáth Ceremony


The Smίmeyáth Ceremony honours youth who are transitioning out of care. Also known as the Butterfly Ceremony, it celebrates the journey of life, rebirth and the beginning of a new chapter. The butterfly symbolizes our ability to go through important changes in life with grace and lightness. Xyólheméylh honoured all youth transition in 2018 and 15 youth attended the moving ceremony on June 12 at the Sumas Longhouse.

Best wishes to all the youth who are beginning an exciting new chapter of your lives. You have shown courage and strength – our hearts are with you

Community as Teacher: Xyólheméylh's Partnership with UBC


Left-to-Right: UBC students Ellen Jopling, Kirsten Larsen, Caitlin Leahy

This summer approximately 25 UBC students studying in the health professions participated in our summer camps to learn about the Stó:lō people through drumming, singing, canoeing, Longhouse ceremonies, talking with Elders and interacting with youth. The award winning program, Community as Teacher, started in 2006 and provides cross cultural learning opportunities for UBC health profession students to attend summer camps.

Attending the Family Camp at Kwantlen First Nation in August were Ellen Jopling, who is studying clinical psychology at UBC, and Kirsten Larsen and Caitlin Leahy, both nursing students at UBC.

“My research and clinical interests lie in depression, anxiety and trauma related disorders in youth,” said Ellen, who wants to work with populations in northern BC. “Any effort that future health care practitioners can make to become more culturally competent, respectful and understanding will only further our ability to help those in our communities wherever we work.”

Ellen says the experience has also taught her the importance of community in health. “It’s given me an understanding of the strength and power of community.”

Kirsten Larsen was motivated to join the program because of the racism she saw in her work in hospitals. “I want to be someone who can fight against racism in the system,” said Kirsten. “Every student in healthcare should have to do a program like this. If you’re going to learn about Indigenous culture, and the impact of colonization it’s important to listen and learn from the community.”

Caitlin Leahy, a UBC nursing student, said the program has taught her about cultural humility. “You need to be walking along side people to learn humility.”

Upcoming Events


Visions & Voices 2018

November 16 & 17

Camp Charis, Chilliwack (51935 Hack Brown Road)

Door prizes, talent show, guest speaker, Mike Scott and more

Event starts at 4 pm Friday for youth ages 13+ (overnight). Caregivers and children aged 6+ are welcome to join the youth Saturday at 9:30 am. Event ends Saturday at 4 pm.

For more information or for registration forms, please contact [email protected] or visit www.fvacfss.ca/event/visions-voices-youth-forum/.

A message from the Visions & Voices Youth Planning Group

The fourth Vision and Voices 2018 is scheduled for November 16 and 17. We are grateful to the agency for committing to making this an annual event. Last year was our most successful event to date. We are committed to making this year’s event even better.

Last year we had approximately 50 youth attend the Friday evening activities. Mike Scott (Sober is Sexi) was our keynote and as we expected, his message was very powerful. All those in attendance enjoyed his story and messages of hope. We stayed overnight at the Sts’ailis Healing Lodge which was really cool.

On Saturday we had around 150 children and youth. Again, the Talent and Art show were great. Perhaps one of the most memorable activities for those that attended Saturday was the honoring of all of the children and youth in care.

One of the changes we made last year was to arrange for a workshop for Social Workers and Caregivers. We wanted to have an event that was welcoming and informative for everyone. We will be planning a similar activity for you this year and are looking for suggestions!

The Vision and Voices event is especially meaningful to us, as we don’t often get to be with others in the same circumstances. Rarely do we get to share with other children and youth what it is like to be a child in care. It is also great that we can give our feedback and suggestions about to make the agency better.

We have moved the event to Camp Charis this year. The site has lots of room and more activities available. We are in the process of developing the agenda for the event. As with last year, we are planning a sleep over for the youth on Friday evening. We have also arranged for Mike Scott to come back. We will keep you updated as the planning proceeds.

We need your support to make this year’s event a bigger success. First and foremost we want to ensure that you know that your attendance is welcomed. We invite all of the staff to join us at the event. We also need your assistance in spreading the word and helping with transportation.

The Vision and Voice Youth Planning Group


Caregiver Appreciation

Join us for a celebration of caregivers.

October 14, 2018.

Christmas Hamper Donations Needed

Every year we help spread holiday joy through providing a hamper including food, toys, and gifts to the families and children/youth who receive services through our agency. For many of our families these hampers are the only way they will be able to enjoy a true Christmas meal and have gifts under the tree. Our goal this year is to provide Christmas Hampers for 100 families. We are inviting individuals and organizations to consider participating. Commitment Forms indicating the manner in which your contribution will be made are available here. Alternately feel free to contact Natalie Brandon at (604) 858 - 0113 with any questions. We are asking for commitments before November 16. Monetary donations can be made by making a cheque payable to "Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society. A taxable donation receipt will be issued. Thank you in advance for your support!

A taxable donation receipt will be issued for donations $25 and over.

Board Nominations & AGM

We currently have one seat on our Board that is vacant. The deadline for applications is Oct. 10. Nomination forms are available here. The nomination meeting will take place at our AGM at the Coast Hotel in Chilliwack (45920 1st Ave.) on Oct. 11 from 2 to 8 pm.

Our AGM will take place Oct. 24 from 3 to 8 pm at the Tzeachten First Nation (45855 Promentary Road, Chilliwack). It's open to all community members. If you would like to become a member and vote at the AGM, membership application forms are available here.