Almost half of children in foster care in Canada are Indigenous, yet they account for just 7 percent of the overall child population, according to a recent Statistics Canada report. Furthermore, Indigenous children make up 3 percent of the population in Ontario but account for 25 percent of children in care.
To address this disparity, The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG), a catalyst for justice system improvements in Ontario, has launched an initiative that brings together Elders, First Nations, Métis Nation and Inuit Peoples, organizations, agencies and other stakeholders. The group is developing recommendations through a series of engagement sessions and seeking public input.
“We recently held a session in Toronto for Indigenous youth with experience of being in care. Their ideas for improvements were simple and powerful,” says Sabreena Delhon, manager of TAG. “They stressed the need for greater cultural sensitivity from justice sector workers and for accessible resources that help young people understand their rights.”
TAG has also launched an online survey to collect public input on the issue of over-representation of Indigenous children and youth in care.
“Our aim is to produce policy and community recommendations that are informed by lived experience,” Delhon explains. “An inclusive approach with diverse perspectives will ensure that this work is meaningful and makes a difference.” The survey and more information about the initiative can be found at theactiongroup.ca