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Native Girl Confiscated

November 20, 2008 permalink

While prime minister Harper apologizes for past treatment of native children, the same practice continues today. A group of sixty natives gathered in Regina to ask for return of a native girl to her family.



Case a flashback to residential school system: protester

Derek Putz, Leader-Post, Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sixty First Nations residents of Regina gathered in front of Court of Queen's Bench on Wednesday, holding teddy bears in a peaceful protest for a five-year-old aboriginal girl.

According to Alice Goforth, organizer of the protest, the grandparents of the girl -- who is currently in foster care -- wish to raise her themselves, but the court won't allow it.

"We wanted a way to help this family that's in court today," Goforth explained on the steps of the courthouse as snowflakes fell. "The grandparents have now stepped forward and they want this child. (But) the court is trying to put the child in a non-native home: A 'white' home.

"That's why we're here, the injustice of it. We have our own First Nations people who want their own kids and who can take care of them."

Goforth compared this custody battle to the battle First Nations people faced in the past with the residential school system.

"It's been done in history ... where they took the kids out of the home and put them in the school," she said. "That caused a lot of problems with addictions and all the social ills because they couldn't take care of their families.

"The government apologized for that. They said they were sorry and they compensated, and now it's starting over again, but this time ... in a courtroom."

Social Services can't discuss individual cases, but Lynn Allan, regional director for the southwest region of Social Services, said that in any case like this, Social Services' foremost priority is the safety and well-being of the child.

"When children come into care we follow the Child and Family Services Act in terms of a child being in need of protection. We look at every case individually in terms of the best interest of the child," Allan said.

Social Services will work with families and attempt to return the child home or send the child to his or her extended family.

"In terms of First Nations children, we do look at placing children in their culture with First Nations families, but only if it's in the best interest of the child," said Allan.

Goforth explained that the 60 or so stuffed bears which the protesters held represent the mother bear fighting for her cubs, and she doesn't want to stop fighting for this family. She thought the protest did a good job of bringing awareness to the situation, but she still feels helpless to change the outcome.

"We can't do anything else because we feel this is the only voice we have left. We can't go in the courtrooms, and we can't speak. This is our only voice to help them," she said.

Source: The Leader-Post (Regina)