85 per cent of fos­ter kids are In­dige­nous

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - OPINION -

When you are In­dige­nous, it only takes one mis­take. When you are In­dige­nous, you are of­ten not given a chance to prove your­self first. You have your rights and priv­i­leges taken away and then you must prove your­self be­fore you get your chil­dren back.

I have a huge amount of sup­port on my side, but I silently won­der if that would be enough. Would they lis­ten? Or would they treat me like they do so many other In­dige­nous peo­ple, like a no­body, like some­one who doesn’t mat­ter. Take away the chil­dren and ask ques­tions later!

On Septem­ber 1, 2015 Cora Mor­gan, a First Na­tions fam­ily ad­vo­cate, told the Cana­dian Press that she had been with a mother in hospi­tal when Child and Fam­ily Ser­vices took the woman’s three-day-old son away. The only rea­son given was that the mother had been a ward of fam­ily ser­vices un­til she was 18.

In­dige­nous Ser­vices Min­is­ter, Jane Philpott, has called the dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of In­dige­nous chil­dren cur­rently in the child wel­fare sys­tem a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

Ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics Canada, 85 per cent of Saskatchewan chil­dren in fos­ter care are In­dige­nous. Raven Sin­clair, a Uni­ver­sity of Regina so­cial work pro­fes­sor based in Saska­toon, is quoted in the Regina Leader-Post say­ing that there is an ”un­in­ter­ro­gated be­lief on be­half of ev­ery­one in­volved in child wel­fare that in­dige­nous peo­ple are not suit­able to be par­ents.”

I am a child of the Six­ties Scoop. I was taken away from my bi­o­log­i­cal fam­ily and adopted into a non-In­dige­nous fam­ily. I was than taken from my adopted fam­ily and raised as a teenager in the fos­ter care sys­tem and be­came a per­ma­nent ward of the courts. Now I am a sin­gle In­dige­nous mother who lives in and out of poverty. My home is well lived in and can some­times be a dis­as­ter zone. My son strug­gles with be­havioural dif­fi­cul­ties. Ev­ery chal­lenge we’ve had with day­cares, other par­ents, neigh­bours, and in the schools leaves me wait­ing in fear that child pro­tec­tion will show up on my door. In fact, ev­ery one of the dif­fi­cul­ties I face could be used against me if ever child pro­tec­tion were called.

I have taken nu­mer­ous par­ent­ing cour­ses. I have read count­less par­ent­ing books. I am the par­ent of a child with At­ten­tion Deficit Dis­or­der and a con­di­tion known as Op­po­si­tional De­fi­ant Dis­or­der. On top off th­ese try­ing con­di­tions, my son strug­gles with grief over the loss of his fa­ther. Life is hard at our house. I am of­ten in fear that some­one may judge me and make that call. I have no con­trol of this. All that I can do is hold on, know­ing that when it comes to par­ent­ing I give it my all.

As par­ents, we of­ten raise our chil­dren the way we were raised our­selves. We do what has been modeled to us. How many of us at one time or another have said “I will never raise my child the way I was raised by my par­ents”? Well I have yet to meet a par­ent who has not at some point said, “Oh my good­ness I’ve turned into my mother/fa­ther!” And yet we all sit in dis­be­lief when we watch our In­dige­nous par­ents strug­gling with par­ent­ing. Many In­dige­nous par­ents today were not able to learn par­ent­ing from their own par­ents, hav­ing been raised in res­i­den­tial schools or fos­ter homes. It is no won­der that In­dige­nous par­ents some­times strug­gle with par­ent­ing.

Fur­ther­more, ask­ing for help is hard, es­pe­cially when that help is com­ing from the very sys­tems that have taken so much away from you. I am not sure I could say with any cer­tainty that I would have sought out as much help as I have if I had not been raised the way I was, by which I mean raised by non-In­dige­nous par­ents and taught a col­o­nized view on life. For the av­er­age In­dige­nous per­son, col­o­nized sys­tems are not to be trusted. Govern­ment ser­vices have lied and mis­rep­re­sented them­selves to many In­dige­nous peo­ple too many times.

In or­der for us ever to reach a state of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with the fos­ter care sys­tem, a lot of un­der­stand­ing and work is needed. Tra­di­tional ways of par­ent­ing must be taught by In­dige­nous mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ties.

The Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Re­port call to ac­tion No. 5 is as fol­lows: “We call upon the fed­eral, provin­cial, ter­ri­to­rial, and Abo­rig­i­nal govern­ments to de­velop cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ate par­ent­ing pro­grams for Abo­rig­i­nal fam­i­lies.”

If our fos­ter care sys­tem doesn’t start lis­ten­ing, another era of trauma in­flicted upon our In­dige­nous peo­ple will be upon us, and we will be no fur­ther along than we were 20 years ago.

Life is hard at our house. I am of­ten in fear that some­one may judge me and make that call. I have no con­trol of this. All that I can do is hold on, know­ing that when it comes to par­ent­ing I give it my all.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.