by Jack Sinclair
Kids in Canada are now facing much more complex family relationships. The most recent statistical information available indicates that kids are living in more diverse family structures.
It's kind of a ‘good news, bad news' situation. The good news is that 80% of kids aged newborn to 11 years are living with biological parents. Also, less than 1% are living with single teen mothers who have limited financial resources. That's it for the good news.
Unfortunately, the bad news list is much longer and more difficult to deal with. There are a significant number of children and youth from minority groups who are growing up in foster or group homes, young offender institutions or, worse yet, living on the streets. Child welfare experts estimate that there are 40,000 children and youth in special care situations at any one time, with closer to 100,000 kids being shuffled back and forth between families and other care arrangements. The number of Native children and youth in these situations are increasing with close to 4% of the population falling into this category.
In addition, to this increasing trend, there is a movement to bring Native children back into the fold of their cultural heritage. During the 1950s and 60s, there was
widespread adoption of Native children, which took them away from families and cultural influences. It is argued that the result has been the creation of identity problems that, even as adults, the individuals have not been able to overcome.
The situation is complex and is deeply rooted in historical events. Do I know the answers? No. What I do know is that when I look at Tina and Stephanie I don't see statistics or trends or issues. I see people whose situation is very individual and very personal. How do we deal with the big picture and not lose sight of the individual? How do we decide what's ‘best' and not violate the individual's rights and needs? These are huge questions.
I can't answer these questions, but Tina I will be here for you…and listening.