Our children and CAS

ne of the most controversial topics on Six Nations is our children. When we talk about matters pertaining to their future, things become complicated and political. Why is that? With respect to the Six Nations Confederacy’s decision to ban Brant Children’s Aid Society from our territory, my heart is heavy; to write about something so important as our children.

Many years ago, First Nations children were targeted. Through lies, deception, and manipulation, our people were told that the best interest of the children would be for them to attend boarding schools, to become educated. The parents had no say in whether or not they wanted their young ones to go.

These schools were not designed for the well-being of the children and they suffered emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. We, as a people, lost a great deal of self-worth; we continue to suffer. My opinion may not matter to some or even most, but it does matter to my children, grandchildren and to the children I am looking after.

When it comes to dealing directly or indirectly with the Children’s Aid Society, the stories from the residential boarding schools come back to haunt me. I realize nothing has changed. Our ancestors encouraged us to continue with education so we can help our people come out of oppression.

Having said that, I am saddened knowing that some of our own people have become the oppressors. What possibly began as an intention of wanting to help turned into a profit sharing strategy to see who gains the most power. At one time, we could see and hear the happiness of the children as they played in the yard. You could hear their laughter from a distance and at night, when they were all tucked in bed, you knew they were safe and sound.

Our values and beliefs have been replaced with policy and procedures, guidelines and dictatorship which have damaged our outlook on life. Whether in traditional ways or according to man’s laws, a child’s needs must come first – the child’s right to love.

I was worried about what would happen if Children’s Aid was asked to leave. After giving this a lot of thought, I too believe it’s time for us to create a better system that suits our children’s needs. No-one better knows those needs then us. On a more personal note; as far as social services taking over, that’s just it – taking over, right where Brant CAS has left off.

I have learned that the Child and Family Services Act recognizes the Onhkwenhonh:we are entitled to provide their own child services recognizing our culture, heritage and traditions. That says a lot for the clan mothers.

Today, we as a community have a choice whether or not our children stay or go. What does the new year hold for our children? For our families? In the new year we are starting a women’s wellness group to work towards healing our families and to kick start our journey. With the help of former elected chief Bill Montour and his wife, we will be putting together a Christmas dinner at the old council house December 25th at noon. We are asking for monetary and cooked food donations and volunteers to help serve. Let’s start working towards putting this community back together. Nya weh.

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