Jan 09 2009
Why do you think there are so many Aboriginal Children in care in British Columbia?
Marie Tonasket – Director Child Welfare (Splatsin) Spallumcheen Indian Band
“In my experience it starts right from the very beginning, from the moment when they meet a social worker. And most typically these workers are non-native, middle class and they don’t share the same values so they see poverty as being a bad thing. And the different levels of poverty they don’t understand. And how a person perceives living in poverty. Because it might just be a way of life so to the family and kids its not a hardship. But for a middle class white person they would see this as unacceptable. Then there is the history of conflict and the lack of trust. So our people don’t necessarily trust social workers. We all remember the history of the 60’s Scoop and how they lost their families there history and their identities.
When I worked for the Ministry I loved being an aboriginal women, going to the door and saying who I was, and then getting let into the house. Having a conversation and talking with them at an equal level. This was huge for me. Many times native families shut down when your typical social worker stops by. They ether become very powerless or very defiant. And if they become defiant, they may hurt the social workers feeling, and then the social worker decides that they definitely need services. Once a social worker decides to dig, well the more you dig the more reasons you can find for having that child in removed into care.
Families are assessed through a Risk Assessment document. And one of the criteria that is reviewed is the history of the parents. In our community the history of our parents is abuse, abuse, trauma, trauma, trauma. And those are things that you have no control over. So the social worker uses this as a negative, rather then setting this aside and recognizing what they have done to overcome these barriers.”
For more on Marie and other front line workers and survivors of the 60′s Scoop and Indian Residential Schools, keep following our Blog.