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Stories of the Child Welfare Experience

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

Tansi Nîtôtemtik

Separately, the word ‘child’ and the word ‘welfare’ don’t bring out certain feelings or emotions. Once put together, in a meaning missing context, we might think it is something good even. Child welfare, to care for the wellbeing and welfare of a child. However, when we put the context of living in Canada into these two words, the weight of them changes, and the significance of what these words mean is heavier than they should be.

In Canada, 52.2% of children in foster care are Indigenous, but account for only 7.7% of the child population according to Census 2016.”[1]

These numbers are upsetting, and while they provide a form of insight into the child welfare system, numbers can only represent and mean so much. The stories of these 52.2% are what speaks volume, and are the stories we need to hear.

Over the course of a 14-year period, 741 children died in the foster home/child welfare setting, which equates to 53 children per year, and 1 child per week.[2] One of the children who survived, Steven Morin from Enoch AB, shared his story with APTN News.

At four years old, Steven was put into foster care, and was sexually abused by his foster mother’s boyfriend until he was nine years old, and said, “ happened almost every week.”[3] Like many other children in the child welfare system, he began acting out, and as a result, was given up to be reassigned to a new home. Before he left, his abuser told him, “If you ever tell anyone about the things I’ve done to you, I will find you and I will kill you.”[4]

When Steven was 12 years old, he told one of the group home workers what happened, but nothing was done about it, and he received no counselling for his trauma.[5] Steven was let down by the system that was supposed to protect him.

Clinton John Marty and his brother (the location where from unknown) were put in a Catholic-run home with nuns and staff at six years old, where he experienced sexual, physical, and mental abuse until he left.[6] Marty was sent to 17 different homes and group homes, and the Catholic house was always the return point till the next home would take him. Child welfare further let Marty down when they were told not to give him and his brother to their father, who was one of their abusers; and child welfare gave them to the father on two occasions.[7] When Marty and his brother were given back to their mother, the two boys got into a fight and Marty kicked his brother in the head.Their mother asked what happened to her boys, and Marty replied, “Those boys are gone a long time ago. This is what they created.”[8] Marty made this statement at 12 years old.

Unfortunately, Marty and Steven are not the only children that have stories like these, and these are experiences that are not of the past. These stories are within our lifetime, our generation, our present moments. We need to do better for these children.

In closing, even after everything Steven has been through, he said that he wants a family, and he wants children to achieve everything they deserve and want, and “... to teach my daughter or son how to tie a shoe, or swing on a swing.”[9] To give to his children what he was unable to have. We hope that we can also apply Steven’s thinking to the children who are not ours but should be treated as though they are.

Until next time,

Team ReconciliAction YEG

[1] “Reducing the number of Indigenous children in care”, Government of Canada (Jun 7, 2021) online: <>

[2] APTN News, “'When Child Welfare Fails” | APTN Investigates (May 17, 2019) at 00h:1m:45s, online (video): YouTube <>

[3] Ibid at 00h:2m:06s.

[4] Ibid at 00h:3m:22s.

[5] Ibid at 00h:4m:04s and 00h:04:30s.

[6] Ibid at 00h:7m:37s.

[7] Ibid at 00h:10m:23s.

[8] Ibid at 00h:11m:20s.

[9] Ibid at 00h:19m:01s.

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