A new housing complex is now open on Siksika First Nation, Alta to house high-risk families and children in the foster care system on reserve.
“We want to have children move in with extended family,” said CEO of Siksika Family Services, Merlin Breaker.
The 24-unit complex aims to keep Siksika youth on reserve and connected to their cultures and families. Children will stay with extended families and will be overseen by Siksika Family Services.
Siksika, located an hour east of Calgary with a population of approximately 7,800, has roughly 400 cases with child and family services.
According to statistics, 60 per cent of the children in care in Alberta are Indigenous.
“If they’re connected to family, extended family, grandparents, aunts and uncles, I think you have the inner strength to take on all challenges,” said Breaker said at the opening ceremony for the units.
The project announcement kicked off steps away from the former residential school that caused intergenerational trauma for many on the nation; with performances from the Chief Crowfoot Young Warriors drum group and fancy dancer, 11-year-old Latesha Young Man.
“I like it in Siksika and some people, they get taken away from this place and their family and loved ones are here and some people get taken away from that,” Young Man told APTN News, adding that she wouldn’t be dancing had she been taken off-reserve.
Siksika Chief Ouray Crowfoot said the homes will give youth a sense of belonging
“Probably weekly, I get an email or a call about somebody that somehow traced their lineage back to Siksika. They’re trying to find that sense of belonging, that sense of where I’m from. And a lot of those go from those kids that are taken off reserve, foster care,” Chief Crowfoot said.
The unit is expected to be available to Siksika members in the summer of 2023.