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Our Society’s  Soul

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” 

 - Nelson Mandela 

We find ourselves feeling a sense of disgust as we repeatedly view images of children impounded under deplorable conditions in US detention centres. We might even silently rage, “Children deserve much better”.

Let us not be too quick to our wag our fingers at our southern neighbours. A recent study, “Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada” released jointly by the Assembly of First Nations and Upstream, a non-partisan thinktank, paints the lamentable circumstances faced by First Nations children in Canada.

“Child rates are deplorably high for a country as rich as Canada”, critiques the report’s co-author, David MacDonald, senior economist of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Current statistics cited in in the article, “Study finds poverty rife among First Nations Children” by Nicholas Keung in the Toronto Star concretize the shameful and unpardonable situation endured by First Nations children.

  • 47% of status First Nations children live in poverty (53% for those living on reserve and 41% for those living off reserve)
  • The poverty rate of First Nations children is two-and-half times above the national average
  • First Nations children have experienced long-standing underfunding by government since 1996 when increases were tied to inflation not to need or population growth, a growth rate 4 times that of their non-Indigenous counterparts
  • These poverty rates have not markedly changed over the last decade
  • The report calls for increased investment to tackle insufficient housing, nonpotable water, and gaps in education and health services

As federal hopefuls begin in earnest knocking on our doors, showcasing their platforms, and bombarding us with TV ads, Be Prepared. Be ready to question, yourself and them,  how they will enact policy changes and budget allocations to change the numbers and categorically change the present and future lives of First Nations children. May future reports spotlight how WE THE NORTH are making it right.

Click here to view the full report

- Sister Nancy Wales, csj


Toronto Star article cites the study here, "Almost half of Status First Nations children live in poverty," study finds :  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/09/almost-half-of-status-first-nations-children-live-in-poverty-study-finds.html

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Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.