Canada | Opinion

Column: Putting Native youth in Native homes doesn't always work





"About five years ago, the province, under pressure from aboriginal leaders, decided that, all things being equal, it was best to put aboriginal children taken from their parents into the care of relatives or someone else in their community.

While Ms. Turpel-Lafond supports the idea in theory, she concedes that in practice it can often do more harm than good. In some cases, the policy is proving deadly.

“There’s no question that the lives of children are being compromised by leaving them in conditions of abject squalor, where they are not supported by any kind of prevention plan and are not safe,” Ms. Turpel-Lafond said in an interview.

Which is a braver statement than you know. It’s impolitic, you see, to suggest that the current policy might not always be in the best interests of aboriginal children. And that, in fact, they are often being moved to situations as bad, or worse, than the ones from which they’ve been rescued.

While Ms. Turpel-Lafond examined the cases of 15 aboriginal children who died in B.C. over two years, she doesn’t know for certain how many aboriginal infants die year to year because quality data for this group do not exist. However, we know that about eight of every 1,000 status Indian infants die in their first year compared with a rate of about four per 1,000 non-aboriginal British Columbians."

Get the Story:
Gary Mason: B.C. failing its aboriginal children (The Globe and Mail 2/1)