Many low-income First Nations mothers feel uncomfortable using aid services outside their community, so when Aboriginal-run programs are cut it puts those women at greater risk of losing their children.
Penny Irons, executive director of the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society, said government support for the marginalized group is declining while the number of children in care is consequently skyrocketing.
Her centre, which feeds about 70 families a week, lost its annual $500,000 federal funding in December.
“When (our) programs were cut we ... weren’t able to maintain a relationship with those families. We’ve gone looking for some moms and many (of them) no longer have their kids.”
“It really takes a toll ... not knowing if tomorrow we’ll have to close the doors. We can see how to solve the problem but we don’t have enough money.”
Ginger Gosnell-Myers, a board member with the Centre For Native Policy and Research, said Aboriginal women face identity issues and shame, and need to be around people like them.
“We’re community-based people,” the 27-year-old Simon Fraser University Master’s student said, adding that this is hard in an urban centre.
Aboriginal centres, Gosnell-Myers said, are a place for women to find much-needed cultural connections, support and acceptance, and cutting their funding is “outrageous.”