Majority of Indigenous youth died while receiving Alberta provincial support

Over the past year, a record-high number of children and young adults receiving support from Alberta died, according to a sombre provincial report.

Many of them were Indigenous. One expert says this recent data is symbolic of an endemic problem across Canada. The report shows 30 of the 45 children and young adults died between April 2021 and February of this year. It includes 25 people from zero to 17 years old, and 20 between the ages of 18 and 24.

These young people were those in foster care, kids under assessment, and adults aged out but were receiving financial support.

Peter Choate is a professor of social work at Mount Royal University. 

And he says “with 30 of the deaths being among Indigenous people, it shows we have a lot to do to address systemic racism,” says Choate.

Related Article: Record number of Alberta children, young adults died while receiving provincial government supports: report

Choate adds there are several factors contributing to the high number of Indigenous deaths.

“One is the intergenerational trauma arising from colonization. The second is the underfunding of the social determinants of health. and the third is the underfunding of kinds of support services that allow families to move through trauma,” Choate said. 

“The elders I work with will put it very bluntly – it’s the racism that doesn’t believe, we the Indigenous people, are capable of looking after our children,” Choate added. 

Considering these numbers have been steadily rising for many years, the NDP says the latest report is the fault of the government for underfunding the system and ignoring recommendations. 

“The young Albertans were put into the care of the government for the chance at a new start and the government failed them,” Indigenous Affairs Critic Richard Feehan said.


“We are constantly hearing there is no point at which the government feels accountable and it’s time that they become accountable,” he said. 

Related Article: Alberta First Nation finds 169 ‘anomalies’ at former residential school site

Meanwhile, Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz is promising help for children and for adults who age out of the system. She adds, she wants a thorough examination of the report.

We are committed to bringing down the number of children who are in government care. That work is obviously going to take work with Indigenous partners and First Nations across the province,” Schulz said.

“Our transition to adulthood program will provide better support for successful transitions for young adults that have been in care into adulthood. But we also want to look at what’s happening with infants who are in government care,” Schulz said. 

Schulz says they will have updated information on how the government can better address the needs of young people transitioning into adulthood.

“There are going to be some tweaks needed when it comes to kinship care. It’s very positive that we’re seeing the number of kinship families and placements increase because we know it’s in the best interest of the children and families to keep kids connected with their families, their cultures, and their communities,” Schulz said. 

Choate suggests better funding for the whole system and housing and health, can reduce the deaths we see and give more support for social workers.

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