It’s quiet in the office at night. I like it. There are almost no distractions and I can see the patterns of life around the world. Connections you might have missed before are now visible. The funding cuts to the Canada’s Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth Program worried me for some reason for some time.
Alone with my thoughts it hit me. I remember reading a press release that said there are more children in foster care today than the total number of all the Aboriginal children who ever attended residential school in Canada. I’m not alone in thinking what’s happening gives the appearance of creating a new method of the continuing the objectives that the residential schools operated under. The resulting class-action suit over that era was in Canadian courts for nine years. 2005 saw a victory of sorts for Aboriginal peoples and the residential school issue.
Canada and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs justify their actions by saying child protection laws necessitate the removal of Aboriginal children from their parents. Of course, there are only so many Aboriginal foster parents and group homes, thus they must be relocated outside their communities. It is for the children’s benefit was the same cry that justified the residential school system and it hasn’t changed for this system.
Some would see this as a way of getting around the Geneva’s Convention on Genocide where one group forcibly transfers children of the group to another group. Or given the past Canadian experience with residential schools ensure two more parts of the convention definition are broken. They are: “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”; and “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.
The residential experience certainly supports that three acts of genocide as defined and enacted by the international community were violated repeatedly. Canada signed the Convention November 28, 1949 and ratified it. It was deposited with the United Nations on September 3, 1952. Yet those violations continued as late as the 1980s.
But back to foster care where Canada dons the clothing of parens patrie (legalese) and acts as a surrogate parent who can supersede the rights of the natural parents when it is in the child’s best interests. Canada as a state decides what is in the best interest for the child. Yet one feels the aims of Canada vto assimilate the Aboriginal Peoples is not a historical policy but has merely seen a change in methodology.
Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples are not alone. In her “What was Australia’s Stolen Generation?” article, writer Alia Hoyt stated, “History is rife with examples of flagrant human rights violations, and even picturesque Australia is not immune to the occurrence of these injustices: Between 1910 and 1970, roughly 100,000 Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their homes” because “the government believed that the children would fare better if raised by white families…”
Because the Canadian government is cutting funding to Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth Program and redirecting that funding to job training and education, a problem will arise.
While the program could not possibly replace being in a First Nations community for those in foster care or those who experienced it, this could create repercussions that future generations of Canadians will have to deal with. Perhaps in the end that is the problem as the results will only be felt down the road. But isn’t it time we consider the consequences of our actions?