FVACFSS Summer Newsletter – 2019


Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children & Family Services Society

Summer 2019 Newsletter

Message from the Board of Directors


Left to right: Judy Douglas, Marion Mussell, Helen Joe, Dianne Garner, Angelina Gosselin, Paula Olmstead, Peter John, Tammy Bartz.

Welcome to the summer edition of our quarterly newsletter. We have news to share about significant changes to the Agency’s service model, the results of our annual planning session, as well as an update on upcoming events.

Service Model: Our objective is to improve accountability and communications with communities; enhance community input, build better partnerships with other community service providers; build positive working relationships with Stó:lō communities, and deliver clearly defined family preservation and prevention programs. Another key goal is to increase voluntary services and decrease protections response and in care placements. We want to ensure family strengthening and non-delegated services are aligned and fully utilized.

The major changes include a dedicated Stó:lō service structure. The creation of Youth Service Teams that fills a need to create more supports for youth aged 12 to 19, particularly for those at risk and transitioning out of care.  In addition there will be a centralized screening team; and a functional, rather than regional structure. New prevention funding from the federal government made available to Stó:lō communities were used to fulfill a need that has been identified for many years that of prevention. Please see the article in the newsletter that explains the changes in more detail.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank all our staff, stakeholders and caregivers who participated in our Information Sessions June 12, June 13 and 19 respectively. The purpose of the Information Sessions was to outline changes to our delivery system, receive feedback and input.  We are grateful to those who attended the sessions and contributed and by doing so have assisted in improving our service delivery.   

Board Annual Planning Session: In June 2019, the Board met in Abbotsford, BC for our planning session. The focus of the session was clarity, review and evaluation of Board responsibilities for Governance and Oversight of the agency. Our Vision Mission and Goal statements remain the same and the Board will continue to meet those standards for our communities, families, and children. The Board worked on the Strategic Plan for 2019-2020. We were able accomplish the tasks laid out in our 2 day agenda. The sessions were satisfying and productive. We believe that to be effective in problem-solving and making a positive impact that working collaboratively is a key element.

As you may already know since it has been announced; the Board of Directors hired an Executive Director. Her name is Angela Sladen and she started work at the Agency on July 22nd. We take pleasure in welcoming Angela to the Agency.   

SAVE THE DATE: The date for the Annual General Meeting is Wednesday October 23 at Squiala. Information will be sent out in a timely manner electronically and via Canada Post. Please watch for that information.

The Board is willing to meet with stakeholders to tell you in person about the work we’re doing. If you would like us to make a presentation at your next meeting, please contact Jill Hammond at: [email protected].

We hope you have a wonderful summer and find time to enjoy some time off before the fall.

Xyólheméylh Board of Directors


FVACFSS Board Director Marion Mussell presents Minister of Tourism, Culture and Arts, Lisa Beare and MLA and Speaker, Darryl Plecas with blankets and mugs.

Celebrating Cultural Revitalization

On May 21, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Lisa Beare and Speaker and MLA Darryl Plecas attended one of Xyólheméylh’s family culture nights. The visit was to celebrate Xyolhemeylh receiving a Community Resilience Grant from the BC government.

“Arts and culture help lift people up, especially during times of adversity. They are an essential part of our identity and fuel a spirit of resiliency,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “Through these grants, we are working to make life better by supporting projects that harness the power of arts and culture to build healthy, connected communities.”

The program supports arts and culture events, festivals and initiatives led by groups in communities that are experiencing hardship, historic oppression or other challenges. Funding is also focused on cultural revitalization within Indigenous communities, with more than 80% of grants going to projects centred on Indigenous culture. Xyólheméylh will be using the money for cultural programming in Abbotsford.

Service Delivery Revitalization


We’re embarking on a new chapter as an Agency and introducing a new service delivery model we’re very excited about.

For many years Stó:lō First Nations have been asking for dedicated resources for families on reserve. We made a proposal for additional funding for prevention services to the federal government and it was approved, which allows us to finally fulfill this need. This, as well as a commitment to continuous improvement, has led to a major overhaul of how we deliver services for those on reserve as well as those away from home.

In addition to creating a team dedicated to the 18 First Nations bands we serve and physically placing staff in those communities, we are also creating a  screening team and  teams dedicated to serving youth and families with youth ages 13 to 19, particularly those at risk and those transitioning out of care.

Our objective is to have better outcomes for children and families, and this means an increased focus on family strengthening and on permanency.

How we got here

Eighteen months ago the creation of a second Permanency Team was approved. This decision was based on the need to increase the agency’s capacity and effectiveness in finding permanent placement for its high number of children in care. There was also approval to develop a specialized High Risk Youth Team, in response to a recommendation by the Representative of Children and Youth. The implementation of these decisions has been delayed due to the need to reconfigure caseloads.

We also conducted a comprehensive audit and file review and identified areas for improvement and a need for more consistency.

What it will look like …

We are moving from a geographic model to a functional model. There will now be five “baskets” of service:

  1. Stó:lō Teams with social workers located in the 18 communities we serve. These teams will work collaboratively with families on reserve to develop relationships and find solutions to problems.

  2. Family Development Response and Screening Teams, which will be the first point of contact and will work collaboratively with families to address concerns and make referrals. This will also include a Family Strengthening and a Rapid Response Team.

  3. Family Services Teams will work collaboratively with families on strengthening cultural connections, implementing clinical strategies to address family needs and connect them with services and programs. The team will focus on children 0 -12 years of age.

  4. A Youth and Guardianship Teams will provide wrap around services to youth age 13-19, with a focus on connecting the youth with community and culture, family preservation, and increased supports for transitioning out of care, in addition a 0-12 guardianship team will continue to focus on permanency.

  5. Residential Resource Teams will focus on caregiver recruitment, out of care support, and establish a placement review process to address the high number of overcapacity and specialized contracted placements.
What are the Next Steps?

We are taking an incremental approach to the changes. We have consulted with our First Nations, and this month held a number of information sessions for staff, our community partners, and caregivers.  This summer we will be assigning staff, reviewing and assigning caseloads, and determining how best to use our administrative resources to support this new model. We will also be busy finding office space for staff in the Stó:lō communities. Our goal is that there will be minimal disruption of services while this is happening. As we move forward, it’s critical that we collaborate and have conversations with our external partners to make sure we’re integrated and collectively, be able to achieve the best outcomes for the families we serve.

A New Screening Number

With the creation of a Screening Team, we now have a new screening number: 1-866-851-4619 / after hours: 1-800-663-9122 / Kids Helpline: 310-1234.

More Information

If you have any questions or would like more information, contact Laura-Dawn Wilkin at [email protected].  Some questions may require further consultation as we move forward.

Butterfly Ceremony


On May 9, we held our annual SmÍmeyáth Butterfly Ceremony at the Sumas Longhouse. The ceremony marks the time when youth in care become 19 and “age out” of government care. Forty-two Xyólheméylh youth graduated to their next phase of life in 2019 and 21 of them attended the ceremony. The youth were joined by their Xyólheméylh social workers and caregivers.

The butterfly totem is significant to this special ceremony as we are honouring our youth in their journey through their own life cycle into a new chapter. The butterfly represents transformation, rebirth, movement through life as well as lightness of being. An important message carried by the spirit of the butterfly is about our ability to go through important changes in life with grace and lightness. This is a message of hope our youth will carry and share as they go forward on their journey.

The ceremony consisted of a feast, a performance by the Spindleworld Dancers, a blanketing ceremony for the youth and words of encouragement from various speakers. Dan Ludeman talked about the beginnings of Xyolhemeylh 25 years ago, how he was the initial holder of the name “Xyolhemeylh” which describes the relationship between those who need care and those who provide care, emphasizing love and respect.

BC Child and Youth in Care Week

Xyólheméylh celebrated BC Child and Youth in Care Week by putting on events in Langley, Mission, Abbotsford, Agassiz and Chilliwack. Over 100 families attended and had fun with the photo booth, games, face painting, cookie decorating and crafts.


First salmon ceremony

First Salmon Ceremony

Xyólheméylh staff celebrated the annual First Salmon Ceremony at Kwantlen First Nation on May 3. The ceremony included drumming, singing, traditional story-telling, and a feast for hundreds of people who attended.

At the end of the Kwantlen First Nation Salmon Ceremony, elders and community members, in ceremonial clothing, returned the bones from the salmon feast to the river.

Upcoming Events


Sxwelméxelh Sq’ep
(Gathering of Cultural Teachings)

For Caregivers, Children & Youth in Care

Saturday, September 28, 2019
8:30 am to 5:30 pm

Squiala Long House 45005, Squiala Road, Chilliwack

The day will feature breakfast, lunch and dinner and activities focused on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being.

Registration forms online soon.