Changes coming to cut number of Alberta aboriginal children in government care – CP

Changes coming to cut number of Alberta aboriginal children in government care – CP

by ahnationtalk on October 19, 2015548 Views

Source: The Canadian Press
Oct 16, 2015

By Bill Graveland


CALGARY _ Alberta’s justice minister says she would like to see changes made next year that would reduce the number of aboriginal children in care.

Kathleen Ganley says consultations are underway with First Nations about the disproportionate number of aboriginal children in government care.

“They are definitely over-represented and … as we enter … general engagement with First Nations and Metis communities, we will be discussing possible alternative solutions to that situation,” Ganley told The Canadian Press on Friday.

“I don’t actually have the statistics in front of me, but as I understand it, there are more children in care now than there were at the end of the residential schools.”

The last residential school in Alberta closed in 1975.

There were more than 6,900 children in care in Alberta as of June of this year. Some 69 per cent were from First Nations communities.

Ganley said she expects recommendations from the consultations to be submitted in February. She said many experts think that more of an effort should be made to keep children at home when possible, because removing them can be “traumatic for everyone.”

“It’s better to intervene earlier and support families, so they can support children rather than taking children out of the communities, because certainly the perception of that is very much like residential schools,” Ganley said.

Charles Weaselhead, grand chief of the Treaty 7 First Nations, said they have been calling on the provincial government for years to bring the matter to the table. He welcomes a long-term strategy.

“The statistics speak for themselves. How are we going to get out of this situation where the numbers are outrageous? There’s far too many aboriginal children in care compared to the mainstream population,” Weaselhead said following a meeting with Premier Rachel Notley.

Weaselhead agrees that the best outcome for families is to have children remain in their homes when possible.

But he added problems didn’t just pop up overnight.

“Having that many numbers and looking at our situation on reserves with regards to capacity and financial support, it begins to break down the success factor. This whole thing wasn’t developed overnight and the solutions are not going to happen overnight.

“There is no quick fix.”

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