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More Aboriginal kids in child-welfare in Canada now than at the height of the “residential schools”

I’ve barely scratched the surface of writing about the history of the residential schools and how First Nations peoples in both the United States and Canada have undergone generations worth of the  forcible removal of their children.

See Adoption as a tool of cultural genocide, the “child grabs” Canadian First Nations peoples have endured, News- “Sonny Skyhawk turns the table on Indian cinema” (in which I cover the how other Bastards do and do not relate to some of this) and my First Nations tag for some of my other writings to get some of the basics about t he residential schools programs, the American Federal Indian Adoption Program (for more on the IAP see my post “A life filled with scars,” the lasting legacy of the Indian Adoption Program,) and the ongoing efforts by First Nations peoples to regain their children (for an example, see my post First Nations peoples’ fight for their kids brought to the Iowa Commission on Native American Affairs from just last week.)

I continue to urge readers to learn the history and listen to those living with the effects.

As I’ve said before,

For my part, I hope to see more in the adoptee, Parents, and Bastard communities educating themselves, spending some time listening, in order to gain at least some understanding of both the history and the ongoing work that must be done to put an end to these crimes. It is long past time we add our voices to those demanding an end to such abuses.

Perhaps more importantly still, would-be-adopters need to stop coveting, fetishizing, and buying Indigenous children, (same could be said for any targeted population of kids, for that matter.)  Market demand remains the underlying driving engine.

So to list a few resources, The First Nations Orphan Association could be one of many starting points, the blog AMERICAN INDIAN ADOPTEES – Lost Children, Lost Ones, Lost Birds is another, as is Trace A. DeMeyer’s important book “One Small Sacrifice: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects

With that as a mere starting places to gain context, we turn to this article from The Province,

Aboriginal kids in government care: ‘It’s an epidemic’Our Growing Challenge: More than half of children taken into government care in B.C. are aboriginal, and this childhood development manager says the situation is getting worse

Just more of the same under a new name, aboriginal kids being taken from their families and raised raised in non-Native foster or adoptive contexts, just now falling under the “child-welfare” system rather than the “residential schools” system. The kids are being de-contextualized one by one, rather than en mass, but the ultimate effect is still very similar.

(Emphasis added by me.)

In October 2009, according to government figures, 4,642 — or 53 per cent — of children in ministry care were aboriginal, even though aboriginal kids make up only eight per cent of B.C.’s children. The proportion is highest in the Fraser Valley, where almost 60 per cent of children in care are aboriginal, said Gagne.

A study conducted by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s representative for children and youth, found one out of five aboriginal youth had either been in care or in the home of a rel-

ative compared with less than one in 30 for non-aboriginals.

Aboriginal children are more than seven times more likely to be found in need of protection and 12.5 times more likely to stay in care. If they leave the system, it’s usually because of their age.

There are more First Nations children in child-welfare care now in Canada than there were in residential schools at the height of the system.

This is unconscionable.

(Again, emphasis added by me.)

Gagne, who is Metis of Cree, French, Iroquois and English heritage, said the current situation is, in fact, a de facto continuation of that system, in which students were separated from their parents and elders, sometimes by force, and estranged from their heritage and culture. Many came away with emotional and psychological trauma that undermined their ability to become good, nurturing parents.

“When we talk about residential schools, people ask why we don’t just get over it, but they don’t realize it’s still happening today in a different capacity,” said Gagne, noting most aboriginal children are placed in non-aboriginal homes because there aren’t enough aboriginal foster parents.

“Our kids are still not with us.”

As always, this is tangled through a web of issues such as poverty, bias, access to housing, education, reproductive care, addiction etc.

But the lack of investment and effort towards tackling these root issues, results in a set of default settings, settings that lead to the removal of children.

With no alternatives in place, removing a child may become the default solution, a report by the Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates warned.

The problems are systemic, and reach far beyond the individual.

Turpel-Lafond said there’s too much knee-jerk response and not enough prevention. And while there are efforts to work on the issues, they do not match the magnitude of the problem.

The disproportionate number of aboriginal children in ministry care is but one of the symptoms of an “economic dependency trap” that limits the potential of aboriginals, says Calvin Helin, a lawyer and author who has been running a martial arts program for inner-city kids in Vancouver for 10 years.

Helin, who advocates greater self-reliance for aboriginals, says there are “damn well good reasons” why so many are stuck in a treadmill of poverty and misery, but “you can say that until you’re blue in the face and it won’t make a difference to your situation.”

Back in 2008 Prime Minister Harper offered an apology for the “Residential Schools”  system.

Which of course then begs the question, does an “apology” for a problem that is still ongoing, ( just shifted to a different means by which the same ends is ultimately accomplished) really mean anything?

Or does it become a sort of placeholder, for where justice should have gone?

Does it provide those not on the receiving end of the injustice an excuse to simply go forward and consider that “over and done with”?

As the article notes, there are those who can’t understand why Native peoples ‘aren’t over it yet’ (what with the “apology” and all.) There are those who become almost exasperated, feeling that ‘issue’ was ‘dealt with, why are you still bringing that up?’

The answer is simple, it’s being done differently now, but the process is still ongoing, soaring to whole new levels of child confiscation.

I wrote yesterday about the Australian “apology” to women whose children were stolen by the Australian Government’s adoption system.

Writing point blank,

Those willing to settle for mere “apologies” will never see justice done.

If readers wonder why I’m more than cynical when it comes to Government apologies, it’s because I try to learn from the experiences of others, I look at what comes the day after an apology and in the years after that.

Beyond any “apology” what is required is at a bare minimum, a dismantling of the system.

Aboriginal communities in Canada are still fighting for their children.

Today MORE children have been confiscated than at the height of the previous system of cultural genocide.

Ultimately, does it matter if new stickers are slapped on the same process, rebranding it, as the former brand no longer enjoys a wonderful reputation?

I think it does. I think it matters a very great deal. I think we have to peel back the shiny new stickers and show what’s still underneath.

No matter what the label, families are still having their children taken.

Flinging mere words at that process didn’t make it go away.

2 Responses to “More Aboriginal kids in child-welfare in Canada now than at the height of the “residential schools””

  1. Roelie Post, Against Child Trafficking Says:

    Thanks for this reminder of history.

    Similar is happening now with the children of the Roma minority in Eastern Europe. Just google ‘Roma children adoption’.
    Many children are taken from their families because of poverty and bad living conditions. Then to be sold abroad.

  2. Baby Love Child Says:

    Thanks Roelie.

    I think understanding these commonalities helps people get a grasp on the larger picture.

    Poverty of course, is simply core to many- but not all- populations targeted for loss of their parental rights and children to adoption.

    It sets the stage and ensures that parents will be less able to fight back.

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