The Current

Aboriginal kids in Manitoba's care finally have advocate

There are just over 30,000 children in foster care across Canada. Fully one-third of them are in Manitoba, and the majority of those kids are aboriginal. Cora Morgan is exactly one week into her duties as Manitoba's First Nations Family Advocate and it is now her job to help change that pattern.
Manitoba's new First Nations Family Advocate Cora Morgan says Child and Family Services sometimes uses children like pawns to punish parents. (ra1000, Flickr cc)

There's really no excuse for her not to be here. And she should be here. But in spirit, she is.- Thelma Favel, great-aunt of Tina Fontaine
Thelma Favel says she went to various Child and Family Services agencies to get counselling for Tina Fontaine, who she said had trouble dealing with her father's violent death in 2011. (CBC)

Thelma Favel is the great-aunt of Tina Fontaine, the young, First Nations woman whose body was found in Winnipeg's Red River, last August. It was a tragic discovery. 

Worse yet, Tina Fontaine had been under the province's care at the time of her death, in the custody of Manitoba's Child Welfare system. And she's hardly the only indigenous youth to have fallen through the cracks of the province's Child and Family Services. 

In March, a girl was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted.... also while in its care. 

I am deeply troubled that this has happened to a child in the care of Child and Family Services. We have a responsibility to protect children in our care and provide them with places of safety.- Kerri Irvin-Ross, Manitoba's Minister of Family Services

These brutal incidents have brought critical attention to the wider situation in the province. 

Cora Morgan worked in restorative justice before becoming Manitoba's first family advocate for First Nations families working with CFS. (LinkedIn)
 There are currently more than 10,000 children in care in Manitoba, the vast majority -- 90% -- of them aboriginal. And so, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs decided that First Nations children need a stronger champion in the province.

It has created the new Office of the First Nations Family Advocate. 

Cora Morgan was hired to fill that new position. She started the job one week ago. Cora Morgan was in our Winnipeg studio. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Marc Apollonio.