Indigenous

Former foster care youth invited to speak their truths outside Manitoba legislature

First Nations people who have had involvement with the child welfare system are being invited to share their experiences at a truth-telling event at the Manitoba legislative building in Winnipeg.

Event coincides with civil trial between child welfare agencies, Indigenous groups and province

It has taken years of healing for Charlotte Boubard to feel comfortable enough to share her child welfare experience. (Lenard Monkman/CBC)

First Nations people who have had involvement with the child welfare system are being invited to share their experiences at a truth-telling event at the Manitoba legislative building in Winnipeg.

"I think it's time that we start telling our truth so that . . .  the generations that are out there still, they're able to hear that there is hope, there is ways of going about our healing," said Charlotte Boubard.

Boubard participated in the first day of the three-day event called Telling Our Truths, hosted by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs First Nations Family Advocate Office.

Boubard, who is from Sagkeeng First Nation, 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, was in the child welfare system from infancy until she aged out of the system at 16.

She said she suffered through abuse and racism at foster homes, and that this event is the first time she felt comfortable enough to share her experiences publicly.

"It's important for me to be here to be a voice for children who may be going through something like that because . . .  you internalize all that stuff, that's pretty heavy duty," said Boubard. 

Former foster care youth speak their truths in Manitoba

1 month ago
1:48
First Nations people who have had involvement with the child welfare system take part in a truth-telling event at the Manitoba legislative building in Winnipeg. 1:48

Three teepees have been put up at the Legislative Building grounds, and the event is holding sharing circles inside them, which include elder and emotional support for anyone who needs it.

Trial underway

The event is coinciding with a civil trial where 19 Manitoba child welfare agencies and Indigenous organizations are arguing that the province took millions of dollars from the federal government meant for Indigenous children in care, and put it into its general revenues.

"In light of the court challenge that's going on this week, we thought that we'd be close by and listening to people's stories and experiences," said Cora Morgan, the AMC's First Nations Family Advocate. 

Cora Morgan, Manitoba's First Nations Family Advocate, says the truth-telling event is an opportunity for former foster care youth to have their voices heard. (Lenard Monkman/CBC)

Morgan said they want to hear from youths, support them and connect them with resources and programming.

For Waylon Flett, the Telling Our Truths event was an opportunity to talk about the difficulties of aging out of the system.

"I didn't know how to survive on my own," said Flett.

"I had to learn everything on my own. It's been a really rough road. But I'm overcoming it day by day and I'm trying to turn my life around."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lenard Monkman is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, Treaty 2 territory. He has been an associate producer with CBC Indigenous since 2016. Follow him on Twitter: @Lenardmonkman1

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