Six women are going without food or water to raise awareness about the number of children in Manitoba’s child welfare system.
The women have set up teepees and lit a sacred fire on the Manitoba legislative grounds and will stay there until Thursday.
The women are there in support of the efforts of The Manitoba First Nations Family Advocate, that was created in June in order to address concerns with how the province handles situations involving First Nations families.
“We needed to do something to bring about change,” said First Nation Family Advocate Cora Morgan. “It’s not a protest it’s just to help educate people so that they understand what’s happening right now.”
Morgan said she couldn’t continue to watch children being apprehended, almost on a daily basis, without doing something
The practice of apprehending children and then forcing parents to prove they are fit is backwards and needs to changed, Morgan said.
“Everything that has been happening in the CFS system is reactive. None of it is around restoring families and supporting families,” she said.
Morgan would like to see more supports in place before children are apprehended, as well as efforts to help mothers get their kids back.
“We have two mothers fasting with us right now. And they are proving themselves every single day… they’re helping people, they’re volunteering, they’re attending workshops…they are committed to sobriety. And still in the view of CFS they are unfit mothers.” she said.
Morgan acknowledged the Truth and Reconciliation Report on Residential Schools, and the province’s recent apology for the Sixties Scoop, but said the problems are still continuing. There are about 10,000 children in care in Manitoba and the vast majority are aboriginal.
“We have lots of history of the damage that taking children from their parents causes. It’s a vicious cycle. It has to stop. Now we are in a time where we can do something, rather than look back 20 or 30 years for an apology” she said.