Residential schools were boarding schools set up by the Canadian government to remove native children from their parents and culture to assimilate them into the mainstream Canadian culture. A total of 150,000 native children attended residential school from the 1930s to 1996 when the last residential school was closed, a mere 19 years ago. Approximately 30% of all native children were subjected to the program with many of them suffering physical, verbal and sexual abuse. The federal government has paid restitution and most Canadians have closed the book on the subject.
Yet native children make up 55% of all children in foster care in British Columbia. Those numbers are staggering considering there are only 79,455 native children in this province, a mere 8% of all BC children. Currently, 63% of native children in care are cared for through native communities and service providers, up from 59.5% in September 2012, which helps but doesn’t alter that fact that too many native children are being separated from their families.
Why is it that so many native children are still being removed from their homes?
According to the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), their main concern is the child’s welfare. However, research has shown that within three months of foster care placement, children show signs of depression, aggression and withdrawal. Would it not be better to provide services in home? In 2014, the BC government spent $248 million on children in care while $6.9 million was spent on alternatives to care, and $94 million was spent on family support programs.