Once again we hear the complaint that native children are being “taken away” from their homes and placed in foster care.
A photo depicting the tired face of Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (The Daily News, Feb. 26) speaks volumes. The sheer weariness of the problem surfaces every decade. Sadly, the same solution surfaces with the complaint — a need for more money.
Surely money, or the lack of it, isn’t the crux of the problem of native poverty and family breakdown. The conditions in native communities across the country have improved measurably over the past two generations.
We see much better housing, late model vehicles, evidence of a higher standard of living, many more native young people attending colleges and universities. The signs of progress are everywhere; in the arts and in the sphere of creative writing, particularly plays and novels. Native art is flourishing, and there is a market that is ever expanding for it.
Nevertheless, the ghost of residential schools has not faded. It lingers in the corridors and is perceived over and over again as the cause of fractured families and addictions. Yet it has been 40 years since the residential school system was dismantled. Many of those who attended these schools have passed on. Did they leave a legacy that cannot be, under any circumstances, broken?
When conditions in the family home are bad enough that the children are removed and placed into care, it is scarcely fair or accurate to have this equated with the removal of children from their homes and placed in residential schools. But it is a convenient excuse. And it places the blame squarely on the government’s funding.
Isn’t it time that the problems plaguing both communities, native and non-native, be looked at in greater depth?
Money can’t solve everything, and in so many cases doesn’t even begin to help.
Addictions plague every strata of society.
ESTHER DARLINGTON MACDONALD