From the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action #80:
“We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
Today is meant to be a day of reflection and education that centers Indigenous voices and stories. Here’s what Riley Yesno, Anishinaabe scholar, writer, and advocate from Eabametoong First Nation, shared on Twitter this week about why National Day for Truth and Reconciliation happens in September:
One thing about TRC day is that the celebratory tone some people take around it really unsettles me.— Ri / á•’áŠá”¦á“¬á„ (@Rileyyesnomaybe) September 28, 2022
Sept. was chosen, in part, bc itâ€™s when children would be taken back to â€˜schoolsâ€™. It was the â€œmonth of cryingâ€. There should be at leastsome element of solemness.
The residential school system operated in Canada for over 160 years, with the last one closing in only 1996. This was cultural genocide, meant to break Indigenous families apart, forcing Indigenous communities to abandon their heritage, their languages, and their traditions by stealing and colonising their children.
And that continues today in the foster care system. According to Statistics Canada, Indigenous children account for 7% of the child population in the country but make up more than 52% of the children in foster care. André Bear, an advocate of inherent and treaty rights, says that the current child welfare system, which has become an industry, is an extension of what was happening in residential schools: assimilation. Indigenous children are still being taken away from their families and placed in homes with no connection to their culture while provinces and institutions supporting foster care programs profit from the business.
Both Riley and André are guests on a special episode of The Social airing today at 1pm on CTV.
During his segment, André will be speaking about birth alerts, an outrageous practice I’m pretty sure many people in this country aren’t aware of. A birth alert is when “a social worker or hospital staff flag an expecting parent – often without their knowledge – as being unfit to care for the child they are carrying”. It provided justification for the hospital to take the infant away from their parent immediately after childbirth. Those children end up in foster care and it was legal in most provinces until 2020, just two years ago. Birth alerts disproportionately affect Indigenous and other racialised families and while legislation was passed recently to end the practice, it’s not being uniformly enforced. Recent data has shown that it is still happening - hundreds of babies are still being apprehended. Yes, Indigenous newborns are regularly being apprehended.
This goes against basic human rights, and disregards body and parental sovereignty of Indigenous women. https://t.co/BckjF5zORl— NWAC (@NWAC_CA) September 29, 2022
Every day people lose it on social media or a mommy forum when a parent puts nail polish on their kids’ fingernails. Can we apply the same energy to birth alerts? Residential schools may not be open anymore but our society is still tearing apart Indigenous families because, as André says, we don’t care enough about Indigenous children.
Separating children from their mothers contributes to addictions, mental health issues and generational trauma.— NWAC (@NWAC_CA) September 26, 2022
The path towards healing must include keeping Indigenous families together. #childwelfare #indigenousmothers #healingindigenousfamilieshttps://t.co/TrfbUfUO2Z