HISTORY OF THE AGENCY
The Agency had its beginnings in 1996 when a group of Nak’azdli and Tl’azt’en community members were concerned about the number of children being removed from their communities by child welfare authorities. They came together to explore the possibility of creating a child and family service agency that would better meet the needs of their nations. Over the next six years they continued to meet and plan. They conducted community consultations, collected data and gathered information. They hired a consultant and developed a detailed plan outlining the services required and a plan to deliver them. They completed a needs assessment and continued to develop the details of the plan in meeting the readiness criteria including policies and procedures, job descriptions, organizational charts and funding arrangements. Following consultation with the Elders, they chose a name for the Agency; Nezul Be Hunuyeh Child and Family Services Society. As the name suggests the goal was to create an organization that would “take care of their own” through an Agency that would be governed by Carrier people. The Agency would ensure that children would remain connected to their families, culture and communities when the legal system became involved. A Society was registered, Band Council Resolutions were passed, a Board of Directors was appointed, several discussions and meetings occurred with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) (now known as Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) and Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), and finally in October 2002 a Delegation Enabling Agreement was signed.
Our journey started with a small office and six employees in April 2003 at 700 Stewart Drive West in Fort St James. Today, although we remain in the original location overlooking Stuart Lake on traditional Nak’azdli lands, our operations expanded in 2010 to include a satellite office in Prince George and a staff of fifteen who provide service to Tl’azt’en and Nak’azdli families residing in Prince George, Fort St James, Tache, Binche and Nak’azdli. We obtained authority for voluntary services in 2007 followed in 2009 by authority for Guardianship services on our way to assuming full authority for child and family services. Fifty four children from our communities have been transferred from the care of the MCFD to our care. Our services have expanded over the years to include a cultural connections program for children in care, community programs and family friendly cultural and community events. A description of these programs is available on this website. In 2014 we celebrated an expansion of our Fort St James location to better serve families. We are governed by a Board of Directors comprised of community members appointed by the Chief and Councils of the two Nations we serve.
“Nezul Be Hunuyeh”
The translation for the name “Nezul Be Hunuyeh” means, “Bonding with the Spirit” in the Carrier language. It acknowledges that the bonding process between caregivers and children are essential throughout the child’s life and is essential to social, emotional, mental and physical health. The reference to the spirit has many levels of meaning as it acknowledges the sacredness of the bond between children, their families and communities. The name also reminds us that fostering and maintaining these relationships is a sacred responsibility.
Beverly John from Tl’azt’en First Nation designed the Nezul Be Hunuyeh Child & Family Services Logo in 2006. It illustrates the connection between parent and child as well as the connection to the land, the water and the clan system. The translation for the name Nezul Be Hunuyeh means, “Bonding with the Spirit” in the Carrier language. It acknowledges that the bonding process between caregivers and children are essential throughout the child’s life and is essential to social, emotional, mental and physical health. The reference to the spirit has many levels of meaning as it acknowledges the sacredness of the bond between children, their families and communities. The name also reminds us that fostering and maintaining these relationships is a sacred responsibility.
In reference to children who come into the care of a child and family service agency, one of the most critical tasks for the change is to nurture and sustain the familial and community bonds for the child throughout the time that they are in care. The successful maintenance of relationship throughout one’s life prepares a child for life’s challenges. The need to develop a lifelong support system that is a positive reflection of the child’s roots and heritage are key factors for positive identity and development of self esteem. From a First Nations perspective, failure to address this need for children who come into care is viewed as being equally or more damaging to the child than the reasons that brought them into care.