When Greg Selinger apologized for the “60’s scoop”, he accused past governments, social workers and adopting families of willful misdeeds.
He ignored not only the context of the time but the kindness and sacrifices of many Canadian families who adopted indigenous children.
Rather than apologizing for the so-called “scoop” he should have apologized for his own government’s actions that put thousands of children at risk. He needs to apologize for a system that has doubled the number of children in his government’s care, now closing in on 11,000. And while he is at it, he should also apologize for a flawed initial delegation of protection of at-risk children to aboriginal agencies that were not ready to take on the weighty responsibility.
The failure of his approach was dramatically underscored by recent revelations of the Winnipeg Police Association. The association revealed that in first half of 2015 there were 3,933 missing persons reports, with 84% of the cases involving children in the “care” of one of the provincial CFS agencies. Reportedly, 68% of the missing were habitual runaways; 70% were young women; and, 61% living in group homes. And, 90% of the runaways were aboriginal children.
The police association and provincial budgets also reveal significant police resources are engaged in finding missing children while growing and significant segment of the provincial budget goes to family services, pushing up taxes and deficits both then and now.
While adoptions may be sharply down, there are now almost 11,000 children in the government’s CFS industry. And a baby a day is removed from its birth mother, with half of them having serious medical conditions.
Norm Gould president of Manitoba’s teachers’ union, noted Manitoba has “one of the highest rates in the world of children placed in care.” He blamed the situation as one reason for Manitoba’s low education outcomes. He said “children in care were less likely to perform well.”
Manitoba has the highest level of child poverty in Canada, with almost three of every 10 children living in poverty; too many die in “care”.
Also Selinger should have acknowledged there are many non-aboriginal adoptees who still are being successfully delivered into non-birth families of varying cultural backgrounds. Agencies under the auspices of government still oversee adoptions, which include international adoptions from Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.
The alternative to being adopted remains, and has been for far too many Manitoba children, a series of foster placements and a succession of temporary housing, including group homes and hotel rooms. While foster parents generally treat their charges properly, too many “moves” have been clearly destructive.
Two-thirds of children from the foster care system don’t graduate from high school. They oftn have difficulty with drugs, crime, employment and their health. Selinger should reflect on who really deserves to be blamed for the misery that too often is government’s race-orientated child care.
-Graham Lane, Chair of Manitoba Forward, and his wife have an indigenous son
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