APTN: Release of “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Child Welfare Services for indigenous clientele living in Montreal” presents a scathing analysis of Indigenous youth care in the Montreal area. Assembled over three years by stakeholders from the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, Concordia University, Rising Sun Daycare, and the Youth Department of the public health network, Centre Integre Universitaire de Sante et de Services Sociaux Ouest de l’ile de Montreal (CIUSSS-ODIM), the goal of the project was to “gain a better understanding of the ways Indigenous children and families are responded to by the child welfare system in Montreal.” Some of the issues identified in the report include:
- Children from Nunavik were told to stop speaking in Inuktitut
- all Inuit children were placed with non-Indigenous foster families
- apprehended children wished to remain in contact with their family but were denied access by social workers or foster families.
- Children removed from home are not offered any emotional support and siblings are often denied contact or access to each other
- Foster families lack of knowledge and sensitization has resulted in racist comments and prejudice towards the children’s parents
At the time of the report’s publication, Batshaw “did not employ any Indigenous people.” Of the health network’s estimated 10,000 employees, there are less than 10 Indigenous employees. Even the network’s sole “Indigenous liaison” is non-Indigenous.
The “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” report identifies 22 Recommendations under the following themes:
- Education for Non-Indigenous Staff, Leaders and Decision-Makers (3 aligned with 8 Viens Commission Calls for Action)
- Representations (7 aligned with 4 Viens Commission Calls to Action)
- Policy Level Changes (12 aligned with 10 Viens Commission Calls to Action)
- CIUSSS-ODIM is to deliver an annual progress report with the first report due in Dec 15, 2020