We are living in what some call the “Millennial Scoop”.
According to Statistics Canada, Indigenous children only make up seven per cent of the population, but are 48 per cent of children in the foster care system. Through a study at the University of Toronto it was found that in Ontario alone, Indigenous children are 168 per cent more likely to be put into foster care than non-Indigenous children. In many cases, Indigenous families are investigated for neglect and poor housing, due to the living situations on reserves, as opposed to maltreatment of children from their guardians. This is not surprising since on reserve Indigenous children are being funded 22 per cent less than non-indigenous children, according to a Globe and Mail report.
It is clearly no secret that there are much more Indigenous children in foster care for unsubstantiated reasons, so why is the Canadian Government not doing anything about it?
When you remove an Indigenous child from their family, less than half of the children will be placed with a foster family who identifies themselves as Indigenous. By placing an Indigenous child with a family who does not have any connection to the Indigenous culture you’re allowing for this child to lose connection with their language, family ties, spirituality, and own sense of belonging. Many children in care are bounced around from home to home and do not have any sort of stability to rely on. So why is this still considered a better alternative?
Rather than displacing Indigenous families, the Canadian government should implement funding for preventative measures. This can be done through before and after school care, breakfast clubs, employment workshops, access to transportation, and wellness centres for families to access affordable healthcare. With these preventive aids, child welfare agencies can help Indigenous families who live in chronic poverty navigate the resources they have available to them, and how to best utilize them to provide and care for their own child.
Our Canadian government needs to do their part in keeping our Indigenous communities together. The government can provide direct funding for preventive means to help keep Indigenous families intact. There is no justice in removing children from loving homes.
With the recent Truth and Reconciliation Report out, the first call to action is regarding child welfare. It calls upon the government to reduce the numbers of Indigenous children in care by providing adequate resources to families, which has been outlined, as well making sure those who are on scene are properly educated. We need to have our social workers trained appropriately to best suit these situations.
Indigenous children do not deserve to live their lives in foster care. Why are we allowing for people to live in such impoverished conditions, and yet continue to punish them by taking away their children. The “Millennial Scoop” we are in needs to come to end. It is time we bring justice to our Indigenous families. It is now up to the government to own their responsibilities and take action to do what is morally right.