Indigenous youth overrepresented in child welfare, especially in Manitoba

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Aboriginal youth overrepresented in child welfare, especially in Manitoba

Just over 90% of approximately 10,000 children in care in Manitoba are Indigenous, according to the 2020-2021 annual report released by the provincial Department of Families.

According to the latest data released by Statistics Canada, Indigenous children continue to be overrepresented in child protection services. An Indigenous mother who lost custody of her child at age 17 testifies.

I don't know if I can heal from this trauma, said the latter, now aged 41, whose The Canadian Press preserves the anonymity because of the relationship between her family and child protective services.

“When we are taken away from custody of her baby at birth , the link is broken.

— An Aboriginal mother from Winnipeg

Statistics Canada's 2021 Census data shows that Indigenous children make up 53.8% of all children in care, while they make up only 7.7% of children in care. under the age of 14 in Canada.

In Manitoba, that figure climbs to just over 90% among the nearly 10,000 children in care, according to the 2020-2021 annual report released by the Provincial Department of Families.

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The child welfare system has been a part of the Winnipeg mother's life since birth. Some of her siblings were taken from their mother, who was a survivor of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop.

Years later, when the Winnipegger s& #x27;was also found in the system and became pregnant with her fourth child, she decided to break the cycle.

She appealed to activists and groups of First Nations parents to reconnect with their culture.

“Getting to know my culture and traditions has really saved me.

— An Aboriginal mother from Winnipeg

She is now caring for her granddaughter and 4-year-old son. I really healed. I learned how to deal well with grief and loss, she says.

The Winnipegger adds that although the child protection system has improved, thanks to the intervention of First Nations authorities and social workers, there are still problems to be solved. [The process] should do everything to help families stay together and support parents, she says.

Executive Director of Carrier Sekani Family Services Aboriginal Center in British Columbia , Mary Teegee claims that several generations of children were taken from their families with residential schools and the Sixties Scoop.

She adds that they were raised without the support of their families, culture or communities, which contributed to addictions and mental health issues.

It is not because Aboriginal people cannot take care of their children. It's because of intergenerational attacks on family and national structures, Ms Teegee believes.

For her part, Cora Morgan, Manitoba's Indigenous children's advocate, says that without sufficient investment in prevention and support, government reforms cannot get to the root of the problem.

Right now the government is dictating how things are going to happen […] There needs to be more freedom for our nations to bring their children home, she argues.

The federal government of Justin Trudeau passed legislation in 2020 to strengthen the right of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to exercise authority over child protection services , with the goal of reducing the number of Indigenous children in care.

Indigenous Services Canada notes that, as of July, 37 Indigenous groups had notified their intention to ; exercise this authority alone and that 27 intended to develop cooperation agreements with a government provincial or federal government.

With information from La Presse canadienne

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