At least one infant each day taken into CFS care in Manitoba
Sheila North Wilson, CTV Winnipeg
Published Thursday, May 7, 2015 6:21PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, May 7, 2015 6:24PM CST
New numbers on the child welfare system in Manitoba show that every day in the province, Child and Family Services takes at least one infant into care.
On some Manitoba reserves, almost every child is involved with CFS in some way, including those from Sagkeeng Anicinabe, 120 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Those with personal involvement and knowledge of CFS said this needs to change, including one grandmother of 16 that CTV cannot identify.
The grandmother’s own children were taken from her 26 years ago after her husband passed away.
"Really (hurt). I was even thinking of ending my life,” said the grandmother, who is now helping to parent half of her grandchildren.
To this day, she said she doesn't understand why CFS apprehended her children and grandchildren and feels CFS is too quick to apprehend kids.
“I think what they're doing to kids is, I think it's all about money,” said the grandmother.
About 90 per cent of children in care in Manitoba are First Nation and numbers obtained by the Liberal Party of Manitoba show at least one infant a day is apprehended.
"We've got 10,000 children care, going up to 11,000 almost in the last year. We need to have focused effort to reduce the number of kids in care," said Jon Gerrard from the Liberals
In Sagkeeng Anicinabe alone, there are nearly 600 children involved with CFS in some way.
That's one fifth of every person in the community.
Leaders there are trying to reverse that trend, but said the most basic problems on reserves, such as housing shortages, need addressing first.
"A lot of these factors affect what happens in our communities," said Sagkeeng Anicinabe Chief Derrick Henderson.
At the very least, leaders there say they need to find ways to keep kids in care in the community.
"We have a lot of people here that have large families and that has to be looked at first, prior to taking them into a different town,” said Sagkeeng Anicinabe Band Councillor Marilyn Courchane.
The grandmother CTV News spoke with agrees and one of her grown daughters said it’s important to keep families together.
“I feel robbed of having that relationship with my mom,” said the daughter.
CFS said it only apprehends children as a last resort, saying a child's safety is of paramount concern.
The leaders at Sagkeeng Anicinabe said they are working on prevention programs now and are working with other organizations like the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to introduce the programs.