A Letter to the Child Welfare Sector From Kike Ojo

Dear Colleagues,

On April 12, 2018, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released a report, Interrupted childhoods: Over-representation of Indigenous and Black children in Ontario child welfare. This report investigated the disproportionality and disparities experienced by Indigenous and Black people in child welfare, confirmed and validated the concerns of the African Canadian community in Ontario and echoed the findings of the One Vision One Voice Report, released in September 2016.

There truly is a child welfare crisis in the African Canadian community. It is palpable when we speak to community members with knowledge of the child welfare sector. Currently, the child welfare sector does not have a place to address everyday issues of systemic racism and as a result many African Canadian families are caught in the system, with no support and no where to turn.

One Vision One Voice, is a road map for this sector. I am pleased that this has been recognized by the OHRC, not only by referencing the findings in the One Vision One Voice report throughout their recently released document, but also by the inclusion of a clear urging that all OVOV recommendations should be implemented across the sector.

In particular, the OHRC report forcefully stresses the importance of disaggregated identity based data collection.  While it is clear that data remains a significant priority for CASs, we must ensure that we are collecting good data. Good data allows the sector to hold itself accountable, as well as providing a means for accountability to the community. One Vision One Voice is working to support agencies in their efforts towards better data collection and analysis, so that we have a more fulsome and transparent reflection of over-representation across the province.

With the help of trailblazing child welfare leaders across the province, we have now formed a Strategic Implementation Team (SIT) made up of Executive Directors and/or Directors of Service from each Zone. Together with our community council, the African Canadian Provincial Advisory Council (PAC) our work is beginning.

To achieve our end goal, we must move in tandem. Obstructions, barriers and divisions, while often natural responses to change, only serve to impede the good work that we are here to do.

Over the coming months, there will be a lot of asks made of the sector, in order to fulfill our Ministry commitments and leave sustainable changes for the African Canadian community, but I know that each and every one of you can and will rise to the challenge.

  • There will be an anti-Black racism needs assessment sent out to each CAS
  • We will be requesting that youth of African descent, aged 15-21 attend the African Canadian Youth Symposium, accompanied by a chaperone, such as their worker
  • We will be holding a Symposium for staff of African Canadian descent
  • Where they do not already exist, we will be helping to create African Canadian Local Advisory Councils in communities where Phase I OVOV consultations occurred
  • We will be supporting your society identity based data collection efforts
  • I will continue equity/One Vision One Voice anti-Black racism training by request

The vision, is that the Human Rights of African Canadian children and families in this province, will be maintained and valued within child welfare. I believe we can achieve this vision together.

Kind Regards,

Kike Ojo
Program Manager, One Vision One Voice

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