PENTICTON–Fewer than eight per cent of children in B.C. are aboriginal, but First Nation’s children represent more than half of our province’s children in care.
“Right now there’s about 40 per cent more [aboriginal] children in care of the state than there ever was at the height of the residential school system,” says Chief Wayne Christian from the Shuswap Nation.
The overrepresentation of aboriginal children in care was just one topic discussed at a Children’s First Forum in Penticton.
It coincides with this week’s human rights tribunal ruling that Ottawa has to put more money into on-reserve child services. The ruling determined that the Government of Canada discriminated against aboriginal children by underfunding welfare services on reserves.
“This tribunal decision gives us hope that we’re going to be able to move forward and be able to look after our won children,” says Eliza Terbasket, Lower Similkameen Band Council Member.
Local First Nation’s leaders and children’s advocates say it’s a good start but their fight isn’t over yet. They’ve also launched legal action, to have the province relinquish control of social services for First Nation’s children living off–reserve.