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N.W.T. woman who grew up in foster care plans march calling for reform

A Yellowknife woman who spent nine years in the foster care system is organizing a march on Monday to call for reform.

Sandra Noel says more support is needed for families before children get placed in care

Sandra Noel paints signs for Monday's march calling for reform of the foster care system in the Northwest Territories. (Submitted by Sandra Noel)

A Yellowknife woman who spent nine years in the foster care system is organizing a march to call for reform.

Sandra Noel says the march will start Monday at 1 p.m. at the Yellowknife Ruth Inch Pool and will make its way downtown Yellowknife to City Hall.

Noel was born in Inuvik, N.W.T., but moved to Yellowknife when she was a young girl. She was placed in her first foster home in 1999 when she was 10 years old. Noel would spend the next nine years moving between roughly eight homes before she aged out of the system at age 19.

 
Sandra Noel was in the child welfare system from age 10 until she aged-out at age 19. (Submitted by Sandra Noel)

"It wasn't all good but it wasn't all bad," Noel said of her time in foster care.

"After the Black Lives Matter march that happened here I felt really empowered and wanted to try and make change in the foster care system because that's close to my heart."

Noel says she wants to see more support and resources for families struggling to keep their children out of care.

"I think it should start with the families and children who are dealing with social services right now like even to try and prevent children from going into care. I think that's where it should start and then everything would fall into place from there," she said.

Noel is not the first to call for a complete overhaul of the foster care system in the territory.

In January the Foster Family Coalition sent a scathing letter to the Minister of Health and Social Services, Diane Thom, which included a long list of recommendations. Several of those recommendations called for more support staff for families and frontline workers. 

The department has committed to working with the coalition on implementing those recommendations.

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