VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — British Columbia’s children’s advocate says findings of an investigation into critical injuries and deaths among Métis children in government care are troubling.
A report analyzing data from 2015 to 2018 examines 183 injuries that were reported for 117 Métis children and youth with 95 per cent of the individuals being in government care when they were injured.
Forty-four of the 183 reports were due to sexualized violence.
Representative for Children and Youth, Jennifer Charlesworth tells NEWS 1130 while the injuries are troubling, “it’s important to remember that there’s a lot more that’s going on to these young people.”
“Colonization and racism have impacted many families’ ability to raise up their children because they’ve been disconnected from one another and disconnected from positive parenting,” she says.
“Poverty is a huge consideration and unstable housing so all of the things that have contributed to the experience with residential school, the experience with violence.”
Charlesworth adds Métis children and youth who experienced critical injuries were also rarely placed with Métis families and were not being connected to their culture.
“A lot of young people that were in foster care were not living in Métis homes.”
According to the report, just two youth in the cases reviewed were living with Métis families.
Charlesworth also mentions mental health, neurodevelopmental or developmental challenges also played heightened the risk of critical injury.
Following sexual violence, self-harm and caregiver mistreatment are the most common types of injuries.
Charlesworth also explains, examining these incidents through a “Métis-specific lens” will set the stage for future improvements.
“One of the reasons we decided to proceed with this was it gives us a really good baseline. What happened? How are things changing?”
While there have been improvements to recognize Métis children’s heritage, Charlesworth says there is work that needs to be done around the census.
“Part of the hope here is that we raise the awareness of how important it is to ask extended family members about a child and find out if they are of Métis heritage.”
Another report will be released in the coming months will examine similar data relating to First Nations and non-Indigenous children and youth within the same time period.RCY_Métis-InvisibleChildren_July2020_FINAL