Sometimes, when journalists bring people together for a potentially difficult conversation, it takes time for participants to open up. But, when the Calgary Journal invited three people to speak about Indigenous childcare issues, they launched into a powerful conversation without any prompting.

Roy Bear Chief is a residential school survivor and now an elder in residence at Mount Royal University (MRU). Peter Choate is a long-time social worker and professor at MRU. Desiree Peigan, who grew up in the foster care system, studies social work and mentors Indigenous youth about their culture.

This episode dives into the issues of separating Indigenous families — the crisis that Canada has created through Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop and the Millenial Scoop, among other events that took Indigenous children from their parents. Today, we are seeing this issue in the placement of First Nations children in foster care.

The effects of such events have led to a cycle of intergenerational trauma — a legacy of children being separated from their families and flooding the foster care system.

“I hope in my lifetime that [there are] no more children in care … I really believe that First Nations communities are quite capable of looking after their own children,” says Bear Chief.

Indigenous children are over-represented in Canada’s foster care system, accounting for nearly half of all children cared for by the state, despite making up just seven per cent of all children in the country. The 2011 data from Statistics Canada still holds up.

“We still perceive that Indigenous children are going to be at risk far more often than any other population. We still will take children into care who are Indigenous far more than any other population,” says Choate.

Peigan was one of those children who grew up in the foster care system.

“I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of trauma, abuse and neglect within the system. But also I’ve experienced healing,” says Peigan.

She talks about rediscovering her First Nations roots after spending time in an Indigenous foster home.

“I believe and know that when we start to heal within ourselves and we connect with our culture, our identity and our heart and the love within our hearts, that’s how the true healing happens.”

The roundtable discussion further explores this issue of the effects of separation and what is being done to resolve the issue.

In partnership with the Iniskim Centre at Mount Royal University, the Calgary Journal presents ‘Raising Reconciliation’ — a series of podcasts and news stories focused on Indigenous voices in our community.

Editor: Brittany Willsie |

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