Poverty grounds for separating kids from their families in Canada

British Columbia is a rich Canadian province. As with most places where money flows freely, not everyone is allowed a taste of privilege.

British Columbia has one of the highest rates of child-poverty in the whole nation. This lack of wealth to buy the basics of life that most of us take for granted has been giving B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development the excuse it needs to remove kids from their parents. The premise for doing so, sounds logical: If you can’t pay to properly feed, clothe and house your child, you’re neglecting your child. The government will step in to do what you can’t and, in the process, take your child away from you. But once you start picking apart the apparatus that serves to ‘protect’ the kids separated from impoverished families, it’s easy to see that provincial government’s methodology is based in cruel madness, masquerading as concern.

Last year, it came to light that a teen removed from his family lived in 17 different foster placements under the watch of 23 different social workers and caregivers over an 11 year period. His final placement: being kept in a hotel room: a practice that was employed on a regular basis, due to the number of children in B.C.’s child protection system and the difficulty in finding suitable foster families. Unsupervised and suffering from a number of mental health issues, he jumped from his hotel window, to his death. In a feature published this week by The Globe & Mail, it was revealed, that this teen, Alex Gervais, was being “sporadically” checked in on by a caregiver paid $8,000 a month.

$8,000 for someone to occasionally see if someone's still breathing.

This is money that could have been spent assisting Gervais’ family out financial destitution. It could have provided $8,000 worth of therapy to ensure that the Gervais was was in grievous need of. It's money that could have been given to the community that Gervais lived in to help support families, like Gervais', in need.

As usual in Canada, those hardest hit by the removals imposed in the name of child welfare, due to poverty, come from our Indigenous communities.

From the Globe & Mail:

Statistics obtained from the Ministry of Children and Family Development show that in the past year, more than three-quarters of Indigenous children were apprehended because social workers deemed them to be at risk because of reasons of neglect.

To make the decision to sever the bond between a parent and child, it’s fair to expect a very high standard of determination. But in a rare case when a First Nation challenged an apprehension earlier this year to the B.C. Supreme Court, the province failed to make the case that taking a three-day-old infant from her mother was necessary. Today the mother and her six-month-old baby are thriving together, with support from their community, the woman’s lawyer says.

Indigenous children are grossly over-represented in government care in B.C., and they are also more likely to face greater issues of inadequate housing, poor access to clean water and high poverty rates.

Paying strangers to provide inadequate care of children removed from their families, when neglect was cited as a reason for removal in the first place. Generations of culturally and financially sabotaging Indigenous peoples—apologizing for the trauma caused by the Residential School System, and then continuing to tear children from their parents homes and culture under the guise of a different name.

It’s shameful and it needs to change.

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