Vigil held for children who died while in foster care

 

A fluffy brown stuffed rabbit sat amongst lit candles and other offerings on the steps of the Alberta Legislature Monday evening. The makeshift vigil was set up, to pay tribute to the children who died while in foster care.

Father Jim Holland spoke at the vigil. He has been with the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples for 16 years. Over the years, he's buried many First Nations children, killed while in the system. Now, Father Holland is wondering why more hasn't been done.

"Is it because they're from people who are struggling in life, that they don't do anything about it?" Holland asks, "if this was a rich kid, in some rich neighbourhood - would it make a difference? Would the ministry act different, is my question."

"They should be having an outside entity doing a review, not themselves. They should have someone coming in, just like if it was a murder. But they don't, they do it all themselves. Hush, hush, and no one ever knows anything. It's unbelievable."

Holland says he's concerned more people are speaking out against the GuZoo than about the deaths of children in our province.

"There's so much news about this guy who has the private zoo," Father Holland said, referencing the GuZoo Animal Farm. "They are so concerned about the animals, but they aren't concerned about our children. And the public, because it is kept such a secret, the public never knows anything, so therefore nothing is ever done. And the government doesn't want it, because if the public knew, I'm sure they would be outraged."

Lawyer Robert Lee also spoke at the vigil, throwing down a challenge to the government. Lee said if the Child and Youth Advocate cared about the deaths of the foster children, they would set up an inquiry within the next three months. He also demanded more transparency from the department. (blb)