Culture clash over kid’s care

Two Winnipeg foster parents will soon learn whether or not they can continue caring for the child who has been with them for two years.

Because the child in question is Métis and the parents are Filipino, the Métis Child and Family Services Authority has attempted to block the adoption in favour of finding the child a “culturally appropriate Métis family”.

While the organization’s general desire to have Métis children raised in Métis homes is somewhat understandable in light of colonialism, the child should be allowed to stay with its current guardians because his best interests are more important than any general cultural concerns.

It was once official government policy to eliminate the culture of First Nations peoples. A related phenomenon was the “60s scoop”, a practice that occurred in Canada, beginning in the 1960s and continuing through the 1980s, where predominately white families adopted First Nations children. Many of the adopted children maladjusted to their circumstances and turned to substance abuse.

In light of this history, it makes sense the Métis people would attempt to ensure their cultural survival and be concerned about the threat they perceive to the child in question.

However, in 2013, it would be wrong to make the little boy a symbol of cultural survival. That burden is a lot to bear for a child who simply needs stable and loving parents.

There isn’t any indication that the child’s current guardians are poor parents. The immediate alternative would be a transition back into family services, which would presumably be traumatic for both parents and child. Ideally, it would be the child’s choice as to where he ends up, but he’s probably still too young to make that judgement.

Whether or not this little boy will eventually become alienated from his childhood cultural experiences is impossible to know. As of now, those making decisions for him should leave overarching historical, cultural and political debates to the side, weigh the odds, and allow him to stay with the couple who has already cared for him for over two years.

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