‘The bond is broken’: StatCan
Indigenous population is on the rise, housing still an issue.
A Winnipeg mother says she was scarred for life when her first child was taken away at birth by social workers, who told her she was unfit to parent her newborn daughter because she was just 17 at the time.
“I don’t know how one could fully heal from that trauma,” said the woman, now 41, whom The Canadian Press has agreed not to identify because of her family’s involvement in the child welfare system. “Having a baby taken away from birth the bond is broken.”
Statistics Canada says 2021 census data shows Indigenous children accounted for 53.8 per cent of all children in foster care.
This has gone up slightly from the 2016 census, which found 52.2 per cent of children in care under the age of 14 were Indigenous.
At the time, only about eight per cent of kids that age in Canada were Indigenous.
More than three per cent of Indigenous children living in private households in 2021 were in foster care compared to the 0.2 per cent of non-Indigenous children. Nationally, Indigenous children accounted for 7.7 per cent of all children 14 years of age and younger.
Statistics Canada says because of difficulties in collecting census data on First Nations and other Indigenous communities, some caution should be exercised in comparing census years.
In recent years there has been a significant push from Indigenous leaders and child welfare advocates across the country to address the myriad systemic issues contributing to the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care.
But experts say factors like colonialism, chronic underfunding of child welfare systems, discriminatory practices and poverty remain.