Indigenous children lose cultural connection in child welfare system – Windsor

An Indigenous woman who grew up in foster care unaware of her rich cultural background is worried the same fate will befall her own three children, who have been in the care of the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society since 2013. 

CBC Windsor cannot name the woman to protect the children’s privacy. Her family’s story echoes the stories of other Indigenous families caught up in a system where there aren’t enough Indigenous foster homes to support all the children in care. 

The woman is from a First Nation, about 250 kilometres east of Edmonton, Alta. She moved to Windsor when she was just 18 months old. 

“I was bounced around from foster home to foster home, then group home to group home,” she told CBC News. “We weren’t really looked after much. The girls were basically able to do whatever they wanted. There were some who went into drugs, some who were successful, some who weren’t so lucky at all.” 

Overrepresentation of Indigenous children 

The Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society recently released a breakdown of how many Indigenous children were in its care compared to other “minority backgrounds” including “African Canadian” and “Islamic.” The numbers show a disproportionate number of Indigenous children. 

  • 12.2 per cent of children in care are Indigenous
  • 2.5 per cent of children in overall population in Windsor-Essex are Indigenous 

In Ontario, Indigenous children were 12 times more likely to be identified as foster children than non-Indigenous children, according to a Residential Services Panel Review from 2016.

While there are a variety of factors that contribute to the overrepresentation, including cultural bias and poverty, the implications are stark, according to experts. 

Cultural connections

The 25-year-old mother said she only began understanding her identity when she visited her band for the first time last summer and connected with family members.

“Their culture is so beautiful. Pow wows and family gatherings, even…

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