Our History

2002 - Vancouver Island Aboriginal Transition Team (VIATT)  

One of five regional planning groups created in response to provincial government recognition that Aboriginal communities should exercise control over services to their children, families, and communities; supported by government 

2007 - Vancouver Island Aboriginal Transition Authority (VIATA) 

VIATA was created under the Community Services Interim Authorities Act to move towards management of services planned by VIATT 

VIATA was deemed ready to move forward to official designation in 2008, but objections from some First Nations leaders elsewhere in the province led to government withdrawing legislation authorizing the Authority, and VIATA came to an end 

2009 – Solidarity Moving Forward 

After government retracted approval for VIATA, the Chiefs from Vancouver Island gathered at Tseycum First Nation to declare their continued support for assuming jurisdiction 

A second meeting of Chiefs from the South Island led to the signing of the ‘South Island Statement of Solidarity for Children and Families’ which restated inherent jurisdiction and the commitment to move forward with assuming control of services, which the Province was invited to witness 

The idea of creating a system for all Aboriginal people living on the traditional territories in the South Island continued in the vision of the Chiefs for the new service system 

2009 – South Island Wellness Society (SIWS)

In the wake of the collapsed Authority process, government initiated a new planning process 

SIWS was a planning organization created to move toward a new service delivery model governed by the Indigenous peoples of the South Island  

The nine Chiefs and an Urban leader were the Board, and SIWS adopted some of the staff and much of the community work of VIATT and VIATA

2011 – Signing of the ‘Child and Family Wellness Accord’ 

The leadership of the nine Nations, Urban Aboriginal leadership, and the province signed this accord, which references and builds on the Statement of Solidarity and resolves: …to work on a government-to-government basis and in the spirit of recognition and reconciliation to achieve the vision of an integrated and wholistic children and families services system based upon the strengths, customs and traditional practice for the care and well-being of the children of the communities of the South Island. 

2013 – Representative for Children and Youth Tables Report Titled “When Talk Trumped Service: A Decade of Lost Opportunity for Aboriginal Children and Youth in B.C.” 

The report recommended, and government accepted, the de-funding of planning contracts such as SIWS 

2014 – SIWS Changes Focus 

SIWS quickly had to change its focus to become a service delivery organization, providing culturally based child and family services in the South Island 

Formal planning to assume jurisdiction, supported by government, ended in the community 

However, the dream continued and key players from earlier initiatives collaborated with local management at MCFD to find ways to create better services, better relationships and more community connections between the ministry and the communities 

2017 - Signing of Protocol Agreement 

In February 2017 the management of South Island MCFD and the Board of SIWS signed a Protocol Agreement recognizing the cultural role of SIWS in working with families, communities, Nations and MCFD  

SIWS also was recognized as a conduit or mediator in communications between MCFD and families or communities, or when conflict arose between the local MCFD services and the Nations  

2018 – Funding Made Available & SIIA Created 

In 2018 government, through MCFD, made funding available once more to support Indigenous communities taking control of their child, family, and community services 

To create a clear delineation between SIWS as a service delivery organization and this new planning process, a new society approved by nine South Island Chiefs was created (South Island Indigenous Authority Society) with a separate board and separate administrative structures  

SIIA applied for society registration in January of 2019 

2019 – Tripartite Process

In early 2019 the Federal Government came to the table as well, so that now we have a tri-partite process involving all three levels of government.  

2020 – Legislative Changes

An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children, youth and families came into force, confirming the right of Indigenous peoples to resume control of child and family services for their communities  

SIIA begins work to develop our own Indigenous Child and Family law and to design a way of delivering services that are grounded in the values, traditions, and cultures of the South Island  

The Province of British Columbia has also recently updated the Child, Family and Community Services Act to ensure Indigenous children’s rights to belong to community and to have access to their traditions and customs  

The Province will now formally support community agreements on child welfare cases and services  

2022 – Building on the Vision

Our vision going forward is an Indigenous-driven service system that will bring children, Elders, and communities together to drive the process and assist the Indigenous political leaders to negotiate with Canada and British Columbia  

We will work with our Board of Directors to ensure member communities are aware and informed about the new emerging Authority, and explore governance structures that best represent the nine Nations and urban population  

In the next 12-18 months, we will create a conceptual plan (including staffing plan, service delivery model, quality assurance plan, and budget) to ensure a smooth transfer of services and funding  

We will recruit and hire a strong Indigenous leader for the new organization, who will work with the Board and the communities to build the new Authority  

Next 5-7 Years – 3-Phase Plan

Transfer of decision-making over service delivery and finance for programs  

Delivery of these programs and services  

Programs and services are shaped by the history, culture and traditions of the South Island