B.C. Residential Schools Response Funding and First Nations Liaisons

Sites across the province still hold unanswered questions and terrible pain for survivors, families and communities, and our government is committed to supporting First Nations-led action to find answers and healing.

The B.C. Residential Schools Response is making available $12 million in urgent funds to First Nations and Tribal Councils that have former Indian Residential schools or Indian Hospital sites in or near their communities.

We are honoured to welcome two outstanding leaders – Charlene Belleau and Lydia Hwitsum – who will serve as the Province’s new First Nations liaisons to aid response efforts.

Biographies of First Nations liaisons

Charlene Belleau

Charlene Belleau is a catalyst for change in her home community of Esk’etemc First Nation and has served in senior leadership and advocacy roles at the local, provincial and national level. An advocate for improved health and social programs, a supporter of residential school survivors and their families, and a leader in the campaign to end violence against Indigenous women and girls, she is dedicated to community healing and to building respectful relationships. Belleau is the former Chief of Esk’etemc First Nation and former chair of the First Nations Health Council.

Lydia Hwitsum

Lydia Hwitsum is a citizen of the Cowichan Nation on Vancouver Island where she previously served four two-year terms as the elected Chief of the Cowichan Tribes. She has advocated for Indigenous and human rights locally, nationally and internationally. Hwitsum has more than 20 years of experience in leadership and advocacy positions at the local, national and international level. She has previously held board positions on the Royal Roads University Board of Governors, the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, the BC Land Title and Survey Authority, the BC Capacity Initiative Council and the Tele’ethw Aboriginal Capital Corporation. She is also former Chair of the First Nations Health Authority. Hwitsum was elected in June 2019 to a second term and serves on the First Nations Summit Political Executive.

Learn more: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021IRR0035-001399