Series: The Child Welfare Industry
Program: APTN InFocus – Melissa Ridgen and Beverly Andrews
Most Canadians understand the residential schools and the 60s Scoop were horrible tools of assimilation that devastated Indigenous families and caused intergenerational trauma that is still felt today.
What many do not understand is that the forced removal of Indigenous kids from their families, continues to happen today in Canada at an alarming rate.
Critics call it the Millennium Scoop – government-sponsored apprehension of Indigenous children through child welfare systems, breaking up families, often with little to no evidence that they were at risk of abuse or neglect.
Indigenous children represent 52% of children in foster care in Canada, yet account for less than 8% of the child population. This overrepresentation is even worse in some jurisdictions, like Manitoba which has close to 11,000 children in care most years, 90% of whom are Indigenous.
The business of seizing and warehousing children is big business in Canada, with tens of thousands of jobs across the country, dependent on children being in care. While the system portrays itself as working in the best interest of children and families, too many people have stories that suggest that is not the case. The Truth and reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls both cited child welfare as an out-of-control problem that must be addressed if Canada and its provinces are to move forward on the path of reconciliation.
Yet this a human rights atrocity seems to not be understood by those not directly affected by the system. Producers Melissa Ridgen and Beverly Andrews aimed to change that.
APTN InFocus is a one-hour live current affairs call-in show that airs every Wednesday afternoon on APTN. Ridgen and Andrews decided 2019 would be the year to be relentless in finding people to share personal stories of how they’ve been victimized by this system, exposing how the industry undermines Indigenous children and families to keep itself in business, and seeking accountability from those who have the power to affect change.
We began with a three-part series on child, which aired Jan 23, Jan 30 and Feb 6 2019.
Children who aged out of foster care share their perspective of the dysfunction from the inside, a former case worker who was fired for working against the system to keep families together, and a social worker who developed a program to protect Indigenous mothers and their newborns who’d be targeted by child welfare authorities. Watch here
That three-part series was just the beginning of an entire year of coverage of this the child welfare problem.
Then in June 2019, APTN broke the story of Baby H who was seized from a B.C. hospital after staff called child welfare authorities to complain a mom was neglecting her baby 90–minutes after coming out of a C-section. This story was one of APTN’s widest-shared story of 2019, receiving over 500,000 pageviews on aptnnews.ca. Watch here
The APTN InFocus team wrapped up 2019 with an exclusive report that Manitoba – the worst jurisdiction in Canada for apprehending children – was changing the way it handles child welfare. The result – fewer apprehensions. This was done through changing the way agencies are funded to de-incentivize seizing children from their families. Watch here
In all, 16 hours of airtime on APTN InFocus was dedicated to exposing the human rights abuses of the child welfare system in 2019.