APTN: Life and Death in Care / CBC North: Righting the Wrongs for Youth in Government Care
Broadcast and Web
Nancy Thomson, Kenneth Jackson and Martha Troian
Reporters at both CBC North and APTN unraveled Ariadne’s thread as they tackled the issue of indigenous teens let down by the child welfare system in 2018. They followed a thread that started with one story, and ended up exposing systemic failures.
Youths living in group homes operated by the Yukon government approached CBC North reporter Nancy Thomson with their stories of physical abuse and neglect. Her work eventually led to investigations by the department of Health and Social Services and by the Office of the Yukon Child Advocate. The Yukon government publicly apologized to the youths — and the public — for its failure to protect them, and announced a series of corrective measures.
APTN reporters Kenneth Jackson and Martha Troian showed the same determination investigating the death of a 15-year-old from Poplar Hill First Nation, Kanina Sue Turtle, who filmed her suicide while in a foster home owned by a child welfare agency. They set out to investigate the connection between the high rate of suicides among Indigenous youth — five to six times higher than in the non-indigenous population — and child welfare. APTN exposed the lack of a surveillance system to keep track of suicides in First Nations. They also showed that children’s aid societies in Ontario don’t provide the data needed to determine the number of Indigenous kids taken from their homes.
Last February, Ottawa tabled Bill C-92, aimed at stopping the over-representation of Indigenous children in foster care. But as APTN’s investigation shows, without proper data tracking, the legislation cannot deliver on its promises. Both APTN and CBC North were awarded a Citation of Merit.