This article originally appeared in our child welfare newsletter. In Brielle’s bi-weekly newsletter, she writes about her investigations, community work and the ethical questions she’s wrestling with. She really appreciates feedback and ideas, so if you’re someone with insights on the system, consider subscribing.
I’m getting ready to publish a story about someone who I can only refer to as an Indigenous mother.
I wish I could tell you her name, but legal and ethical considerations keep me from doing that. By sharing her name, I’d be indirectly identifying her kids who are in foster care on Temporary Custody Orders. (The government is applying for permanent custody of the kids. I’ll be covering that trial later this month.)
“I’m strongly of the view that you cannot publish anything that will identify the children,” said one of the lawyers whom I’ve been poking for advice. “What is your motivation to publish the identity of minors?”
Here’s the thing: It’s not that I want to identify the children. It’s that I don’t want to deny the mother her right to stand, fully, in her story.
“I’ve had a tough upbringing myself, but you know, it created me,” the mother tells me. “I think when you’re able to release and to let go and be able to … share your story, then that’s where the true strength and power really comes from.”
“I’m not the only person,” she continues. “If I come forward, I speak out, and I take that initial first step, more people will follow.”
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She figures a tidal wave of sharing could help bring an end to the ongoing removal of Indigenous children from Indigenous families.
“I don’t want my … daughters fighting the same battle I’m fighting today for my children, to keep them out of foster care,” she says. “Because the foster care system is a continuing cycle of the residential school [system]. And I see that it’s all connected — from the residential school to the Sixties Scoop and now … the Millennial Scoop. And I’ve been affected by all three.”
While I won’t be identifying this mother in my story, I can’t (nor do I necessarily want) to keep her from publicly voicing her concerns about her kids’ well-being. She says she’s weighed the risks of speaking out against staying quiet, and she believes it’s in her daughters’ best interests that she speak out — loudly.
“If she doesn’t have the proper help and support, how is she even going to make it to an adult? How is she even going to get there?” she asks.