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Tamara Malcolm Reaches North Bay

September 16, 2009 permalink

Tamara Malcolm has reached North Bay on her walk to Ottawa in support of aboriginal children.



Tamara Malcolm
Tamara Malcolm, 26, is walking to Ottawa.
Dave Dale The Nugget

Woman walking to help aboriginal children

Posted By DAVE DALE, THE NUGGET, Updated September 16, 2009

Tamara Malcolm remembers the day she was taken from her family and shuffled between a hotel and foster homes.

She was five years old.

Even at such a tender age, Malcolm said she thought it was wrong and shouldn't happen to children, dreaming one day she would do something about it.

I was taken away from the only thing I knew, my family," Malcolm, 26, said Tuesday at the Inn on the Bay.

She's continuing her journey from Winnipeg to Ottawa today and expects to stop in Mattawa Thursday.

Malcolm left Winnipeg in late July and has already worn out five pairs of shoes to raise awareness about what happens to native children after they're taken into care by the government through Children and Family Services.

Her sweatshirt has a logo she designed that says Walking for the Past, Present and Future Generations of Aboriginal Children in Care.

Malcolm said she wants to begin the healing process for people who lost children or were victims of agency apprehensions," as well as raise awareness of the suicides committed by children in care.

It should be Anishnabie families (taking care of their children) and they should not be taken out of the community," she said, referring to the tradition of relatives taking in children when young parents struggle.

Malcolm said her travels have been educational. She said First Nation communities in Ontario are making strides by creating their own agencies to protect children in their own way, and many communities have protocols with agencies to give relatives first chance at fostering.

But it's a struggle, she said, referring to media reports about how governments pay nonnative agencies more to do the same work. Other reports have said native foster candidates get frustrated by strict eligibility rules and reduced funding assistance.

The CBC reported Tuesday that a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is conducting a hearing about discriminatory funding policies.

The Assembly of First Nations told the tribunal Monday that welfare agencies serving First Nations communities receive about 22% less than provincial agencies.

Our children deserve the same care afforded to other children in Canada," said AFN Grand Chief Shawn Atleo.

While it's taken two years for the tribunal to hear the complaint, jointly filed by the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, the federal government has asked the courts to rule whether the tribunal has a right to hear the case.

A judicial review began Friday, the CBC reported.

Malcolm has a Facebook page she dedicates to the parents and children separated by government agencies.

She said many people have supported her along the way, adding there are more native children being apprehended across Canada than the number of children separated by the residential school system.

The CBC reported one in 10 native children is in foster care, compared to one in 200 nonnative children.

There are three young women in different places telling me I inspire them to not give up hope for their own lives," she said.

The Union of Ontario Indians has a plan to improve the situation for its communities called Anishinabek Nation Child Welfare Law Development.

Its goal is to address issues to ensure children in need of protection are given culturally appropriate care, preferably with relatives, and dealing with the underlying problems such as poverty and substance abuse.

The other priority is keeping children with parents while dealing with issues.

Source: North Bay Nugget