Access to Justice for Children 2020: Best Interests of the Child


Course Date: March 6, 2020

Full Course Materials
Total: 6h 24min

Welcome and Opening Prayer

Access to Justice for Children: Words to Action

Young people around the world are taking action to access justice: Hanaa Edenshaw, one of 15 plaintiffs, ages 7-19, who launched a lawsuit against the Canadian government for their personal injuries as a direct result of the climate change.

Haana Edenshaw Haida Gwaii, Environmental Justice Movement, Victoria

Legal Foundations of Best Interests of the Child in BC

This panel will highlight the legal basis that supports the best interests of the child in BC, including:

  • international law:
    • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
    • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
  • statutes:
    • Youth Criminal Justice Act
    • Immigration and Refugee Act
    • Divorce Act
    • British Columbia Family Law Act
  • Rules of Court
  • superior courts' parens patriae jurisdiction and inherent jurisdiction

Halie Kwanxwa'loga Bruce Cedar and Sage Law Corporation, Chilliwack
Suzanne S. Williams Brown Henderson Melbye, Victoria

BREAK

Best Interests of the Child: Supporting the Child's Healthy Development and Wellbeing

Imbedded in the best interests of the child principle is supporting each child's healthy development, an area where the knowledge base has and continues to evolve. Justice professionals need at least a basic understanding of child development to uphold the child's condition, means, needs or other circumstances in their work.

This panel will provide essential information on:

  • the child's developing brain across childhood
  • the evolving capacity of children
  • the impact of stress and trauma as well as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on children
  • practice tips on boosting children's protective factors, including those with special needs, to support their resilience and healthy development

Halie Kwanxwa'loga Bruce Cedar and Sage Law Corporation, Chilliwack
Dr. Alanaise Goodwill
Assistant Professor, Counselling Psychology, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby
Kim Hetherington, BSc
Social Worker/Practice Development Consultant, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Surrey
Dr. Christine A. Loock Medical Director, BCCH Cleft Palate Program; Specialist Lead, BCCH RICHER Program, North Vancouver
Dr. Sonya Vellet Registered Psychologist, Vellet and Associates Child Psychological Services, Inc., Vancouver Island

LUNCH (provided) with Featured Speakers: "Non-discrimination and Best Interests of the Child"

An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (Bill C-92). What impact is this new legislation likely to have on Indigenous children?

Ardith Walpetko We’dalx Walkem, QC Cedar and Sage Law Corporation, Chilliwack

What does "best interests of the child" mean in the context of young transgendered people's lives?

barbara findlay, QC barbara findlay, QC Law Office, Vancouver, counsel to A.B. in A.B. v. C.D., 2020 BCCA 11

Child Participation and Legal Representation

Justice decisions that are made in a child's best interest can easily fail to meet a child's lived reality unless the child has an opportunity to participate and be heard by decision-makers.

Hearing the views of young people in justice decisions that affect them is:

  • a child's right
  • informs the child's context from the child's perspective rather than the adults'
  • done informally with a child specialist facilitating participation, or formally with a Hear the Child Report, Views of the Child Report, or s. 211 Family Law Report

Ensuring the child's views are heard and considered by decision-makers, in the processes to reach decisions and in the actual decisions, can be challenging.
At times the only way to support a child's participation is with the assistance of a child and youth lawyer.

The Honourable Donna J. Martinson, QC Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of BC, Vancouver

Child Welfare

A young person shares her story of being in foster care.

The Honourable Judge Rose Raven Provincial Court of BC, Vancouver
Halie Kwanxwa'loga Bruce Cedar and Sage Law Corporation, Chilliwack
Cheyenne Stonechild International Institute for Child Rights and Development, Burnaby

Family Court Processes

Young people share their stories of navigating the family justice system with and without legal representation.

The Honourable Donna J. Martinson, QC Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of BC, Vancouver
The Honourable Judge Rose Raven Provincial Court of BC, Vancouver
Sahara Davis Nursing Student, Surrey
Suzette Narbonne Child and Youth Lawyer, Society for Children and Youth Child and Youth Legal Centre, Vancouver

BREAK

Bringing It All Together: Developing a Practice Framework to Implement Best Interests of the Child and Advance Children's Access to Justice in BC

What are the key elements required for you to effectively and consistently implement the best interests of the child in your work in justice processes?

Can a common approach be taken by all justice professionals to uphold the best interests of each child whom they directly, or indirectly, impact in their work?

An overview of existing models and highlights from the day's learning:

  • Child Rights Social Ecology
  • Circle of Security
  • Wrapping Our Ways Around Them

The Honourable Donna J. Martinson, QC Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of BC, Vancouver
Jane B. Morley, QC Access to Justice BC, Pender Island
Halie Kwanxwa'loga Bruce Cedar and Sage Law Corporation, Chilliwack
Suzanne S. Williams Brown Henderson Melbye, Victoria


Closing Comments