Monday, April 12, 2010
PUBLIC HEARINGS ABOUT CHILDREN TAKEN FROM PARENTS / Part 164 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/
Northwest Territories may Provide Our Example for Action
This is precisely what needs to occur in British Columbia. The public and our MLA’s need to listen to the parents whose children have been removed by the Ministry of Children. The Northwest Territories have commenced a series of nine public meetings during April 12, 2010 because the MLA’s last June 2009, promised to review the Child and Family Services Acts that has been law since 1998. The presenting incentive for the review was the disturbing assertion that the ACT gives social workers too much power to take children away from their parents. I applaud NWT MLA’s for this conscientious process. It demonstrates a legislature of leaders seeking to be responsibly accountable to their electors.
Clearly in NWT the majority of the children in child welfare custody are aboriginal children, but the truth is that across Canada, three times as many aboriginal children as non-aboriginal children are in care. In these cases it is found that neglect, rather than physical or sexual abuse is the dominant cause for children being in the system. Parents don’t have the tools to care for their children and may not have the financial means but surely that doesn’t deserve punishment. Yet the fact remains that non-aboriginals too, are subjected in BC to these removals that rip families apart and in some cases irretrievably.
I believe that NWT has begun a model of action for BC that can view the family differently than it has so that the model for resolution will be putting resources into families rather than taking children away from their families. Children should be with their biological families rather than traumatized within a system that ostensibly is seeking to provide care yet with every action appears to be generating separation.
Twenty-five people spoke at this first public meeting and these included parents who lost children, foster parents, social workers, lawyers and community justice workers all of whom expressed frustration and heartache and criticism of aspects of the ACT they say must be revised. A news report stated that emotions during the meeting ranged from anger to anguish as grievances were aired to a panel of MLA’s and Child Welfare professionals.
Read the online news report by Elizabeth McMillan of the Northern News Services which was published on Friday, April 9, 2010.