How one B.C. community is fighting to keep Indigenous children with their families

Nancy MacDonald - The Globe and Mail

"In the Cowichan Valley, a growing network of mothers, advocates, midwives, doctors and elected officials is trying to take a different approach to address the ‘humanitarian crisis’ of Indigenous kids in care" in British Columbia, Canada, says this article from the Globe and Mail. The Red Willow Womyn’s Society, an Indigenous group in the Cowichan Valley of B.C., advocates for Indigenous parents involved in the child welfare system and educates them of their rights, in an area where about 78 per cent of youth in care in the region were Indigenous. “We’re suggesting creative measures to keep families together – especially moms and their babies," says founder Patricia Dawn.

"Indeed, two-thirds of the 6,500 children in care in British Columbia are First Nations, Inuit or Métis; and 45 per cent of the 185 babies under 31 days taken into care last year in the province were Indigenous," states the article. "Nationally, Indigenous children under the age of 14 comprise 7.7 per cent of all children in the country, but represent 52 per cent of all children in foster care." "Most Indigenous children are apprehended for neglect, which is 'another word for poverty,' says Nico Trocmé, the [Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect]'s principal researcher."

"When the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) heard of Red Willow’s efforts, it opened spaces for single mothers in a local transitional housing project it runs. Its next project will be a family centre run in conjunction with Matraea, an organization focused on maternal health. The Indigenous-run facility for single mothers and their families will offer housing, on-site counselling for addictions and trauma, an in-house nurse practitioner and a full-time advocate to accompany women to visits with doctors, social workers, teachers and lawyers," according to the article.