On October 16, 2014 First Nation members gathered at the Alberta Legislature Building to protest the deaths of all the children who have died in the provincial child care system. This peaceful demonstration highlights a tragic issue affecting children within the province.
“These children are the most vulnerable people in our society, they look to us to protect them, to support them and help them grow into adults,” stated Chief Rose Laboucan, Chief of Driftpile Cree Nation and Education Chief of Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, “and when these children ask if we can protect them, the answer the government is giving is, not always. That needs to stop.”
The deaths that the Chief is referring to are the almost 750 deaths of children in care within the provincial system since January 1, 1999.
“It has been reported that of all these deaths, Aboriginal children are over-represented but the real truth is that any child’s death, Aboriginal or otherwise, is a horrible tragedy and completely avoidable,” added Chief Laboucan before continuing, “but for us to stop these deaths we need to, right now, stand up and say – not another child. This rally is to bring awareness to everyone, First Nations, Albertans, Canadians. These are our children that are dying.”
“I urge everyone to contact the Minister of Human Services and tell them this situation needs to stop. This is important because these children have no voice to speak up for them except ours, we need to protect them. In order to do that we must act now,” concluded Chief Laboucan.