Will He Ever Know His Skin is the Most Beautiful Shade of Brown?

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This morning I gave my son a kiss on his yogurt laden lips and kissed my little 5 year old brother on the top of his thick indian haired head before I left the house for work. I walked out of the door and into a morning where the fog like air had just lifted and it gave me the sense that I was still dreaming.

I looked over to my neighbors’ driveway to see three little Indigenous boys looking at me. They stood beside a tall elderly white man who was talking on a cell phone, walking the length of my neighbors’ driveway. One of the boys, all whom must be between the ages of 8-11, turned back to look at me again through his glasses.

For a moment I felt as if we were viewing each other from some vantage point bordered by lines that we could not cross. It felt much like how it is to view an animal at the zoo, but I couldn’t tell which of us was on what side of the glass. My heart was instantly hit with a sadness that also carried the essence of longing. I wanted to scoop those boys up and take them berry picking in the woods, let my grandmothers hands run over their faces and for her eyes to smile into their soul. I felt a longing for the reconnection of all Indigenous boys and girls placed into care and into white homes. In that moment, I felt like that boys home and I seen a startled curiousity in his eyes that told me he was trying to place me somewhere that was familiar to him.

I don’t know why this brief moment hit me so hard this morning. I almost cried in the vehicle on the way to work and then again while writing this. I know that I am making assumptions here and they are that:

A) these boys were in foster care or adoption and that this guy was NOT their grandfather or an Uncle.

B) that if it was a foster care/adoption arrangement I assumed the best interest of the child was to be placed with someone of Indigenous heritage.

Who is to say that they are not treated kindly beyond measure and are given all the love that they need?

A part that probably pained me is knowing that the neighbor they were there to see, holds some level of prejudice towards Indigenous peoples. It isn’t a loud prejudice but a subtle we-are-neighbors-and-i-will-judge-you-in-my-silent-moments almost amicable, yet detectable, prejudice. I have wrote about an experience with them on my other blog.

I guess the thought that saddened me was, that they may never know how beautiful the shade of brown they are really is.

I believe that Indigenous children should be placed into Indigenous homes. I know that there are other issues and problems surrounding this simple statement like:

A) the availability of Indigenous foster care givers

B) the lower payments given to foster care givers when secured by a First Nation ran child welfare organization (due to inadequate Federal Funding).

I know that every one is able to give love and there are probably some amazing, loving, non-indigenous foster care givers who watch over Indigenous children at this moment. It takes a lot to be a foster parent and to do it well. However, Indigenous peoples have faced generations of assimilation, white-washing, and a legacy of the removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities. Thus the need for a lower level of removal of Aboriginal children from their homes and if this happens, to keep them within their communities. Aboriginal children are over represented in the Child Welfare system and yes, some of these children do need protection but many are taken due to structural racism, the sometimes crippling effect of the Ministry, and impoverished conditions caused by broader structural inequalities/racism that help perpetuate such circumstances.

We as Indigenous people must take those steps (if we can) to provide homes for those children who need it. We with voices, need to use them to advocate for the children and lift up their voices so they are heard. There is a lot of love to be given and a lot of work to be done. I don’t have all the answers but writing here, allows me to get closer to my own.

Helen K

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