Indigenous parents, caregivers suspicious of an education system too closely linked with child welfare

March 11, 2020

A recent report has found that Indigenous parents and children are uncomfortable with the close connections between the child welfare system and the education system. Co-authors MacEwan University Professor Emily Milne and University of Saskatchewan Professor Terry Wotherspoon write that while reconciliation efforts focus on the importance of schools as safe, secure, and supportive environments for all children, that mandate is not always being fulfilled. Specifically, Indigenous parents often worry that the cultural activities (pipe ceremonies, sweat ceremonies) that children take part in with their families may not align with teacher perceptions of “good parenting,” and could result in the parents being reported to a social worker without the teacher speaking to the parent or caregiver first. The report makes a number of recommendations, including ensuring that teachers and schools have appropriate knowledge of Indigenous cultures, perspectives and experiences; as well clear guidelines and processes for teachers to follow if they suspect a child is being mistreated. MacEwan (National)