Métis artist Christi Belcourt dropped some serious truths on Twitter this week, sparking #StopStealingOurKids, an impassioned manifesto demanding that Canada’s provinces stop taking Native children away from their families. After speaking with advocates, including First Nations family advocate Cora Morgan, Belcourt put her 140 characters to good use in a series of over 40 tweets detailing how Indigenous families are fractured, with children sucked into the bureaucratic machinery of the welfare system, often placed in abusive homes, shelters and even hotels, places where their heritage, culture and language is seldom passed on to them.
The numbers of children in the system are staggering – it is estimated that there are today anywhere from 60, 000 – 70, 0000 Native children in foster care in Canada , a much higher proportion than the 20, 000 children taken in the horrific Sixties Scoop, where 20, 000 children were taken and placed into adoption or in residential schools, those institutions meant to “kill the Indian in the child”. In all, 150, 000 Métis, Inuit and Native children were forcibly taken from their families and placed into residential schools and remains one of the greatest stains on our nation’s history.
Canada’s child welfare system has replaced its residential schools. This crisis isn’t solely about stolen children, but also about the families that are broken apart. As Belcourt explains in her missive, the links between suicides of mothers traumatically severed from their children, many of them infants, and of other women preferring abortions to having their children taken from them. And a chilling fact: some advocates for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women say that “100% of all cases connected in some way to Child and Family Services children in care.”
Indigenous families belong together. We cannot stand idly by as children are wrenched from their parents’ arms. We cannot allow the repetition of one of Canadian history’s greatest shames. As Delores Schilling tweets, “Historical Trauma is NOT Historical Trauma if it is Still happened NOW.”
Read Belcourt’s #StopStealingOurKids tweets in this Storify board curated by Hayden King, the Anishinaabe inini (from Gchi’mnissing), Director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance & Assistant Professor of Politics at Ryerson.
For more information about how you can help and volunteer your time to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, contact AMC’s First Nations family advocate Cora Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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