Monday, April 19, 2010

THE MINISTRY OF CHILDREN IS LIKE ICELAND'S VOLCANO / Part 170 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/


I will admit it up front. This has been pent up all weekend. This piece is my Monday morning rant.

Iceland’s Volcano is spewing ash into the skies across Europe at altitudes of 25,000 to 30,000 feet (7,620 to 9,140 meters). With a monstrous cloud of volcanic ash closing down airports from Britain to Finland to Austria, much of Europe faces this question: What do you do in a world without air travel? Airlines are losing hundreds of millions of dollars each day that they are on the ground. Necessary business travel is halted. Vacationers are stranded unless ground transit is possible. Flights for medical reason are delayed putting patients at greater risk. The air defense system kicks into emergency alternatives. Such is the nuisance created by this active volcano.

But there is trouble pronouncing the volcano’s proper name as well. It is called Eyjafjallajökull. When you sound this out, how would you pronounce it? Unless you are Icelandic and can still romance syllables and vowels, you cannot get it right. Listen to this quick link lesson on the pronunciation of Eyjafjallajökull. So, was your attempt anywhere close to that? When you hear it pronounced you cannot believe the speaker is reading the same word.

What I have been hearing and reading about the work of the Ministry of Children and Family Development in British Columbia over these recent months with respect to its work in child protection and child welfare is comparable to the volcano in some respects.

When it is dormant, as in the Victoria MCFD main offices, it is harmless enough, and on paper it even appears a handsome societal solution to the welfare of children at risk.

'Ministry', now there is a word with significance for me. But how will you pronounce it? Ahh, you see my work as a pastor for over 40 years was called ‘ministry’, so my word association conjures thoughts of caring, visiting, counselling, compassion, empathy, and support. I pronounce it with appreciation. Technically however, 'ministry' simply speaks of a bureau, department, agency or office and the Ministry of Children and Family uses it that way. It would be great if Wikipedia carried a sound bite that could teach the MCFD to pronounce 'Ministry' as 'compassion' for the family.

What do citizens do when the ACT that governs the Ministry is so thick and cloudy that almost no one without a Bachelor of Laws can follow the trains of thought from article to article and thus one’s attempts to recover children or one’s defence against unreasonable practice is disadvantaged and dialogue is nearly impossible. One is grounded, confined to move among the ashes.

What do you do when the employees within a government Ministry mandated to provide a service in the interests of families and children, massage the system and the ACT so that superior human values of mercy and love are obscured by an adversarial flow of negative reporting, legal delays, and unchanging negative assessments regardless of evidence to the contrary.

The MCFD does not have limitless power or uncontrolled, boundless authority yet to parents caught in her wheel house, the Ministry’s power feels infinite. MCFD has unrivalled resources, legislatively and financially, whereas parents are restricted by fear, shock, anger and worry, lack of information, low income level and high projected cost of legal representation. In Child Protection cases MCFD shuts down people’s lives.
What will we do in a province in which a Ministry has unfettered power to remove children and to ignore reasonable and civil and legislative parameters in its treatment of parents and its placement of children?

Mary Polak or someone, please become our champion for parents and families as well as children.

1 comment:

  1. My experience is with the Ministry of Education, which employs many employees of competence and good will--as, I am sure, the Ministry of Children and Families does. Yet the upper levels of the Ministry of Ed. have been virtually impermeable to the concerns of parents of traditional morality in the matter of the Corren Agreement. I have a feeling that there is something behind this likeness of defects in the two Ministries. Perhaps it has something to do with the way our party system has developed so that the civil service is not held accountable by the elected represetatives of the people.


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