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Agency seeks foster homes for Montreal Inuit children

Batshaw Homes: about 30 Inuit children in city need foster care

By JANE GEORGE

As many as 30 Inuit children in Montreal need foster care, but there are no Inuit foster-families willing to take them, says the Batshaw Homes for Children, a government agency that provides youth protection services to English-speaking people in and around Montreal.

“They’re in foster families, but we’d like when they come in to go into Inuit families,” said Garnett Forbes, a recruitment work at Bathshaw Homes. “We’d love to have Inuit families.”

When Batshaw can’t find Inuit families for the Inuit children under youth protection, the centre tries to find other aboriginal families for them— but these families are generally either Cree or Mohawk.

Even this is a less than ideal solution, Forbes admits.

“When you have children growing up away from their people, then when they grow up, they are so isolated,” she said. “We want them to know who they are and feel good about themselves and not start searching.”

About 10 older Inuit children now under youth protection in Montreal are living in reception centres, Forbes said.

But as soon as they’re ready for living in a family environment, they go on to foster families, she said.

Some Inuit children in Montreal come right out of the hospitals into foster care as newborns.

Right now Batshaw wants to find an Inuit family for James, a nine-week-old baby.

“James loves to be cuddled, and if he is disturbed, it takes him a while to get back into his comfortable “nook.” He has a good regular routine, eats well and is gaining weight appropriately. James tends to nap during the day and wakes up a few times during the night. He is lifting his head, is able to focus and follow individuals with his eyes,” read Batshaw’s recent public service ad in the Gazette

But despite repeated efforts to reach out to the Inuit community, no Inuit families have come forward to take on Inuit foster children like James.

Batshaw does have a group in downtown Montreal for families who foster Inuit children.

During their get-togethers they can meet with other families fostering Inuit children and sometimes with Inuit who come to these meetings.

Foster families receive from $800 to $900 a month for fostering one child, as well as other allowances.

But first, interested families must go through an in-depth psychological assessment and a home visit by social workers.

Forbes said that generally there’s a lack of foster families in Montreal and that Batshaw is always recruiting potential foster families.

Some of the Inuit children who are in foster care eventually end up being adopted if their parents can’t meet “certain requirements,” and can’t change their situation, Forbes said, although efforts are always made to reunite them with their parents.

Anyone interested in becoming a foster family for Inuit children can call Forbes at 514-932-7161, ext 1179.

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