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ily, and brought it to the conference to share who this child is and what her
two lives are about, effectively bringing her into the conference.
The second eldest child wanted to attend the third conference only—the
returning home conference. He attended along with his foster mother. The
two had bonded over the 18-month period and their close connection was
apparent. It was a connection appreciated by the mother and grandmother,
who had the opportunity at the conference to voice their appreciation for
the care she had provided to their child.
This conference day was a celebration day: the two eldest children were
returning home. The circle was large, 19 of us, including three Elders, and
Chief Clifford White of the Gitxaala Nation, who had been instrumental in
bringing the AFHCC into being, had flown in to witness the ceremony and
court orders being made. We passed the feather and each, including the
children, had a turn to speak.
The court recording was on. The mother wanted to share the many steps
she had taken to bring her mental health back to a place of stability, which
now allowed her to join her mother in all the comings and goings of the children’s
daily lives: the bussing of children to and from school, the meeting
with the required support people in the wellness plan and the ways to ease
the financial constraints on this family of six. The social worker for the Ministry
acknowledged all the work done by both mother and grandmother to
allow for the return of the two children. Lawyers summarized positions and
provided the required documents and consents for filing. The judge made
the consent orders, returning the two children home with terms of supervision
and granting the continuing custody order with ongoing weekly family
visits for one child and extending the supervision order for the youngest
child, and providing for the grandmother to be guardian of the children
under the Family Law Act.
The conference then moved into a blanketing ceremony. Chief White
spoke while an Elder blanketed each of the family members who had
achieved the goals set out in their healing and wellness plan to honour their
hard work and success. The foster mother, too, was blanketed for the love
and support she had provided.
The conference concluded with all standing in a circle, holding hands
and listening to the Elder’s prayer for the family and all who had participated.
We then moved outside to the park to eat cake and watch the children
Exploring ways to integrate the Provincial Court family case conference
process with the traditional Aboriginal approach to healing is not a small
task. There are fundamental differences between judge-led conflict resolu-