OTTAWA — Within the wake of the tragic discovery of an unmarked burial web site in Kamloops, B.C., the Liberals are dealing with powerful questions on ongoing harms being suffered by Indigenous kids within the baby welfare system — a system an Inuk MP says is not any completely different than residential faculties.
Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who represents Nunavut, mentioned she has seen far too many associates and Inuit in her territory dying by suicide and youngsters being taken from their properties and positioned within the baby welfare system.
She took challenge with politicians this week portraying the horrors inflicted on Indigenous kids by the Canadian authorities as “historic wrongs” when talking of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation’s discovery of unmarked graves believed to include the stays of 215 kids on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential College.
“Colonization shouldn’t be over. It has a brand new title. Youngsters are nonetheless being separated from their communities. Foster care is the brand new residential college system. The suicide epidemic is the brand new type of Indigenous genocide,” Qaqqaq mentioned in an emotional handle within the Home of Commons Thursday.
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She shared bone-chilling particulars of Inuit households in her territory typically left to wash the stays of a cherished one who died by suicide.
“The residential faculties and genocide waged in opposition to us has advanced into the foster care system and the suicide epidemic we see in the present day,” she mentioned. “Indigenous genocide is a twenty first century drawback.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several other of his cupboard ministers acknowledged Friday that First Nations, Inuit and Metis kids are certainly nonetheless being taken from their households in disproportionately excessive numbers and positioned in foster care.
Trudeau known as this an “unacceptable” actuality that should finish.
“The continuing elimination of youngsters from their communities to stay with foster households, to go to different cities or cities the place they lose their tradition, they lose their language, they lose their identification must cease,” Trudeau mentioned.
Because the passage of Invoice C-92 in 2019 — a invoice that was created to cease the overrepresentation of Indigenous kids in foster care — Ottawa has been working to empower Indigenous communities to maintain at their-risk kids and youth of their house communities with their very own language and tradition, Trudeau mentioned.
And but, Ottawa’s Indigenous baby welfare laws has not stopped First Nations kids from being positioned in foster care, acknowledged Indigenous Providers Minister Marc Miller, calling it a “damaged baby care system.”
Whereas acknowledging Ottawa’s function, each he and Trudeau additionally pointed to provincial methods, that are largely chargeable for administering social companies programming akin to baby welfare.
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These provincial methods are nonetheless far too targeted on intervention after they encounter a baby or youth in danger, Miller mentioned.
“There are nonetheless kids being eliminated, taken into care, and dying and the system remains to be one that’s targeted on intervention versus prevention in a manner that doesn’t replicate the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Miller mentioned.
“If that is one thing individuals suppose will take a brief time frame, they’re not understanding the gravity of the scenario. It would take the complete participation of provinces that run a variety of these baby care methods, the transformation of their very own legal guidelines and the lifting up, foremost, of Indigenous legal guidelines throughout the nation.”
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett additionally acknowledged the elimination of Indigenous kids from their mother and father and their placement in properties away from their communities is a present-day actuality for too many Indigenous households, which she mentioned is a “current hazard to kids.”
Indigenous kids account for 52.2 per cent of kids in foster care in personal properties, in line with 2016 census information. But Indigenous kids make up solely seven per cent of the youth inhabitants in Canada.
“There are extra children in care now than there have been on the peak of residential faculties and it’s unacceptable and dangerous,” Bennett mentioned.
“We wish this stopped and we’re working very arduous with the self-governing nations in addition to the opposite nations,” she mentioned, including that this work additionally entails working with the provinces and territories.
Ottawa shouldn’t be solely investing and attempting to remodel the kid welfare system, however can also be taking measures which can be aimed toward stopping kids from ending up in disaster conditions within the first place, the ministers mentioned.
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Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal pointed to $250 million being spent to construct 4 faculties in Northern Manitoba to permit First Nations children residing in distant areas to attend college domestically, fairly than having to depart their communities — one thing that has been recognized as a set off that may result in issues in a while.
Felony justice reforms proposed by the Liberals to repeal some obligatory minimal sentences as a measure to cease the over-incarceration of Indigenous individuals throughout Canada can also be meant to maintain households from being separated, mentioned Justice Minister David Lametti.
These reforms are contained in Invoice C-22, which is getting a tough trip within the Home of Commons and should not move earlier than MPs rise for the summer season break later this month.
Qaqqaq, conscious of all these measures being taken by Ottawa to deal with issues over the kid welfare system, known as for Ottawa to do extra.
“I’m right here in an establishment that has tried to get rid of my individuals for the final 70 years, standing as much as say that the federal authorities is chargeable for the continuing colonization occurring,” she mentioned throughout her speech.
“Performing is within the arms of this authorities. They will select — they’ll select — to assist efforts towards actual change ? or they’ll be part of governments of the previous in perpetuating violence in opposition to Indigenous Peoples.”
The Indian Residential Colleges Decision Well being Assist Program has a hotline to assist residential college survivors and their relations struggling with trauma invoked by the recall of previous abuse. The quantity is 1-866-925-4419.
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