WALMSLEY, Christopher

Author Tags: First Nations

Although Aboriginals constitute less than four percent of the population in B.C., according Christopher Walmsley in Protecting Aboriginal Children (UBC Press, 2005), Aboriginal children constitute 40 percent or more of the children in state care in western and northern Canada. Based on his interviews with nineteen B.C. child protection workers, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, conducted in 1998-1999, Walmsley has examined the Aboriginal child protection system, from residential schools to foster homes, with particular emphasis on B.C. “Throughout its history,” he writes, “the residential school system was chronically under-funded and provided substandard education, housing, health care and child care.” Despite widespread physical and sexual abuses, only one public inquiry into residential school conditions in B.C. was undertaken prior to the 1980s—a coroner’s inquest after eight-year-old Duncan Sticks ran away from the Williams Lake Residential School in 1902 and was found dead the next day. Walmsley reprints a useful, chronological list of 16 residential schools in B.C. and their years of operation: St. Mary’s Mission 1863-1984; Coqualeetza (Sardis) 1888-1941; Kamloops 1890-1978; Kuper Island (1890-1975); Kootenay (1890-1970); Port Simpson (1890-1948); Cariboo (1891-1981); Alberni (1891-1972); Kitamaat (1893-1941); Christie (1900-1983); St. George’s (1901-1978); Squamish (1902-1960); Ahousaht (1904-1939); Sechelt (1905-1975); Sechelt (1905-1975); Lejac (1910-1976); Alert Bay (1929-1975). In Protecting Aboriginal Children, Walmsley, who joined the staff of the School of Social Work and Human Service at Thompson Rivers University in 1996, emphasizes that considerable progress was made in the 1990s after public attention was focussed on the death of five-year-old Matthew Vaudreuil, a ward of the Ministry of Social Services throughout his short life. The resultant Gove Report, issued in November of 1995 during the tenure of Joy MacPhail as provincial Minister of Social Services, led to new legislation such as the Child, Youth, and Family Advocacy Act to ensure an independent system of advocacy for children. With Aboriginals constituting 35 percent of the children in B.C. government care in 1997, plans were made to generate a special advocate for Aboriginal services, but the Advocacy office was eliminated and its legislation repealed with the election of a new Liberal government in 2001. In conducting his panoramic examination of contemporary social work in the field of Aboriginal child protection, Walmsley was not able to find a male Aboriginal child protection practitioner with a social work degree. 0-7748-1171-4

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Child and Family Welfare in British Columbia: A History


Walmsley, Christopher. Protecting Aboriginal Children (UBC Press, 2005).
Walmsley, Christopher & Diane Purvey (eds). Child and Family Welfare in British Columbia: A History (2006)
Small Cities, Big Issues: Reconceiving Community in Neoliberal Era (Athabasca Univ. Press 2017) co-edited with Terry Kading $37.95 978-1-77199-163-6

[BCBW 2017] "First Nations" "Indianology"