Huu-ay-aht First Nations releases evaluation of Social Services Project three years after launch

Huu-ay-aht First Nations is pleased to release an independent evaluation of the Social Services Project, launched in 2017, that shows great successes have been achieved in the first three years of the project.

Huu-ay-aht contracted an independent party to conduct an evaluation of the project to determine the effectiveness of the project. The goal in 2016, when the Social Services Panel began its work, was to ensure that all Huu-ay-aht children grow up safe, healthy, and connected to their Huu-ay-aht home, culture, and values.

The report will serve as a benchmark against which future evaluations will be measured. This represents the first evaluation of Huu-ay-aht’s Social Services Project since the 30 recommendations were finalized in 2017.

“The results of this evaluation prove that there is a way forward. Huu-ay-aht’s vision is coming to fruition through ensuring their vision is acted upon with expertise, planning, and frontline workers,” said Kim Baird, Social Services Panel member and advisor. “Of course, another key ingredient for success has been funding assistance from government partners. The reconciliation of Huu-ay-aht families is integral to the future sustainability of Huu-ay-aht First Nations.”

Feedback came from 169 Huu-ay-aht citizens, Community Services and Child and Family Wellness team members, directors for Huu-ay-aht’s Community Services and Child and Family Wellness department, the acting executive director, and members of Executive Council and Social Services Task Force. The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the evaluation process, as in-person engagement was not possible and online surveys were conducted instead. 

“It is important that we hear what is important to our people and those who are helping to raise our children,” explained Huu-ay-aht Councillor Edward R. Johnson, adding how thankful he is to the citizens who participated. “We are pleased to have heard from so many people and this will help us shape the program moving forward to ensure we are meeting the needs of the community so we can achieve our goal of bringing our people home and keeping our children safe and connected to their nation.”

As a result of the survey, 26 areas of focus were identified. Highlights include:

  • Securing Oomiiqsu (Mother Centre) funding
  • Affordable housing
  • Equipping staff with the tools they need to do their job in a balanced, healthy way
  • Focus on culture, language, and traditional foods
  • Communication
  • Ensuring all demographics (youth to elders) are being served
  • Focus on addressing violence, physical health, mental and emotional health, and the tools needed to ensure citizens can lead a healthy lifestyle   
  • Increase inclusivity – elders, LGBTQ+, foster parents
  • Secure Bill C-92 funding
  • Secure wraparound funding for services
  • Designate an alternate dispute resolution body

“This interim assessment is an important step in implementing the Huu-ay-aht vision for bringing and keeping children in the fold of family and community love, care, and culture.” Maegen Giltrow, Social Services Panel member and legal counsel. “It is very rewarding to see that 64 per cent of Huu-ay-aht citizens who responded said they felt their family’s safety had seen some or great improvement from the Huu-ay-aht Social Services Project over the previous year. But the assessment is also an important guide to the substantial work that lies ahead.”

Moving forward, the results of this evaluation will guide the program and service delivery to help promote mental health and emotional well-being for Huu-ay-aht citizens of all ages, gender, and sexual orientation. The team will prioritize strengthening families by ensuring all additional parenting and caregiving support is available through Oomiiqsu and other programs and services.

“It is encouraging to see the results of this evaluation as it shows we are on the right track,” explained Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “We have to continue to move forward with our Ancient Spirit and Modern Minds, while honouring our sacred principles of ʔiisaak (utmost respect), ʔuuʔałuk (taking Care of), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (everything is one).

For a copy of the report, please go to this link.