Alberta’s Advocate for Children and Youth has released 10 years of disturbing statistics.
The new report – ranging from 2012 to 2022 – shows more than 600 children and youth have died or been seriously injured while involved with Alberta child welfare and child intervention services.
Even darker, is the news that Indigenous children and youth represent 66 per cent or two-thirds of the 634 fatalities and injuries, while Indigenous Peoples comprise 6.5 per cent of Alberta’s population.
“We see a number of [deaths by] suicide, [and] a really concerning number of deaths relating to substances and opioids,” said Terri Pelton in an interview with APTN News.
“And [serious risk] continues to be a problem for young people transitioning away from children’s services care. They don’t have enough supports, and so we are seeing, really, an increased number of young people between 18 and 23 passing away.”
Pelton’s job is to look into the numbers and make public recommendations to prevent future injuries and deaths.
The new report dates back to when her office became independent from government in 2012.
“What we are continuing to see is that child intervention, child welfare services are…over-involved in the lives of Indigenous young people and their families,” Pelton said. “[Indigenous] Nations really need to be supported to take care of their own kids.
“There was legislation enacted – federal legislation about two years ago, which allows them to care for their own children and have their own child welfare laws. The government needs to support them to exercise their inherent rights to care for their kids.”
Pelton also said more supports are needed for youth leaving the child welfare system to prevent future overdoses and deaths by suicide.