Taking Indigenous Kids Home: Photo highlights from this summer’s OACAS Youth in Care Gathering

This summer, Indigenous youth in care from across the province traveled to Bark Lake Leadership Centre near Irondale, Ontario for three days of cultural workshops and activities focused on building community.

Fishing Memory Bark LakeWatch some the highlights of this dynamic gathering.

“This Gathering is a great way for Indigenous youth to build healthy cultural identities and engage with their Elders, traditional teachers, and other Indigenous kids in care,” says Karen Hill, Director of Indigenous Services at OACAS. “This is their opportunity to normalize themselves and their experience in life. It makes them feel less alone.”

In 2015, the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission drew attention to the overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in child welfare and its direct connection to inter-generational trauma caused by residential schools and the Sixties Scoop. Earlier this year Karen Hill discussed child welfare’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings. A recent information sheet by the Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal, using data from the Ontario Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, reveals that indigenous children are much more likely to be investigated and placed in out of home care than other children.

In 2016, OACAS and member Children’s Aid Societies launched a Call to Action which focuses on eight priority areas for collective change toward an improved and culturally responsive child welfare sector in Ontario. Moving forward with Truth and Reconciliation for Indigenous People is one of the priority areas included in the Call to Action. The Bark Lake Gathering is one of the ways that OACAS is supporting its member Children’s Aid Societies to develop meaningful partnerships with Indigenous youth, families, and communities.

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