Kim feels the commission is biased and will not produce real transformation that will protect all children in Manitoba. She has a sense that the commission will sweep under the rug any real chance for change. This is why Kim started her hunger strike so the terrible manner the system functions can be better understood and hopefully altered. Kim has been sleeping in the open at the Manitoba legislature asking that the name of Phoenix be removed from the commission of inquiry so a wider investigation may take place.
The use of the hunger strike is an interesting method to gain attention and moral persuasion to fight without physical violence for a cause you believe in. Kim has a strong belief that there is an inherent structural violence in the Child and Family services system that even normal and well intentioned peoples cannot overcome. The nation-state makes a very poor parent; there is little love, nor emotional security that the state can provide to a child which is needed in their growth as human beings. I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of days at the hearings and my sense was there was a general lack of responsibility and accountability. There were no witnesses willing to say it was my fault, my role had these consequences; that I will stand and be counted. It is a shame that we have been unable to use the inquiry to find real solutions to the CFS not only for Phoenix but all children. There seems to be an entire industry built around CFS and the watching of abuse. It is perhaps the age we live in but the lack of accountability is telling. I had the opportunity to talk to a number of social workers and semi-independent agencies who are attempting to meet the needs of their people outside of the legislation. Many feel the current legislation is not intended to protect children and families, but the government from liable and fault.
While many see the CFS as an Aboriginal issue, it has very wide repercussions; from lower GDP, broken families, high costs, higher taxes, slower learning in schools, great social ills; it seems that we have come to a point of immobility; the inability to move forward or even to the side. In the idea of the Wars of Influence, there exists a long term war occurring between the state and Aboriginal peoples. How many causalities are we willing to see before we commence real discussion about a system that responds to the needs of communities and families holistically. In any war of attrition, real solutions or the end only come about when one or both side decides enough is enough and too much blood has been spilled. While some may say it unfair to see CFS, the state and Aboriginal peoples in a war of influence on this issue, there are certainly larger issues at stake. Kim is a simple pawn within that larger fight, Phoenix is a pawn. It is about control and sovereignty. Is the state ready to hand over complete autonomy to Aboriginal CFS agencies and let them devise their own rules? If you viewed CFS and the state as an occupying power related to other wars such as the 2nd Iraq War between the US, Sunni and Shiite Muslims is the concept of a War of Influence existing with a low level of violence possible? Many First Nations people view the CFS as so heavy handed that good will between communities has been destroyed. I know of no family in Manitoba that if they were told CFS was coming to their home that panic would not set in. There is generalized fear of CFS no matter what your socio-economic status. It is perhaps time for CFS to take lessons from policing and create community based programs that build relationships.
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