Canadian Province Continues to Profile Indigenous Parents
In our first newsletter, Faith shares the news from Canada you might have missed...
No one seemed to bat an eyelid when the family minister of Manitoba (a Canadian province), Rochelle Squires falsely cited a statistic last Tuesday, stating apprehensions of children from parents deemed ‘high risk’ have dropped by 75% since the province’s controversial birth alert system was abolished.
Manitoba has historically used birth alerts to notify hospitals and child welfare agencies that an assessment must be performed before a newborn is discharged to a parent characterised as ‘potentially unsafe’. If the parent failed, the child was taken into foster care.
Child safety is clearly a priority. But there were no guidelines for when a birth alert should be issued: it was left entirely to the discretion of child protection agents or hospital staff. The system punished young parents, poor parents, and predominantly Indigenous and racialised parents due to prior connection with the welfare system, a reality caused by centuries of colonial laws and policies.
The practice finally ended in 2020 as the detrimental effects of removing children from their homes came to public attention, while a review showed how the alert system discouraged pregnant people from seeking support.
Despite this, little seems to have changed. Last year 339 babies were taken into care, a decrease of just 32% from the year before. Far lower than a 75% decrease, which you would be forgiven for expecting, given the abolition of the policy. There are still a lot of babies being taken.
The government of Canada claims reconciliation as a top priority, yet Indigenous children are still being stripped from their communities, contributing to centuries of intergenerational trauma.
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