Samantha Sam has courage and enthusiasm.
I read the recent article that highlighted some of the trauma of her young life.
As a member of the Anglin Committee, I remember well the hopes I had for the young people who find themselves in the residential care of the government.
So many of the things Samantha says I have heard from other youth; she is far from being alone in her sad experiences. Thank you, Samantha for speaking out.
I am always so very impressed that so many of the young people I know, who have come through the group homes and residential care system, have the desire to return to that system to try to improve life for younger children.
Samantha suggested that she would like to work in a group home, but also recognized the potential difficulties in that path.
I asked another young woman why she would want to work in a group home after the difficulties she encountered in that life. She said that she wants to make sure young people in residential care know that they have rights, that there is an advocate to help them and, further, she believes she will have an understanding of youth that only an former resident can have.
She wants to help ensure that no child has to go through some of the traumatic difficulties that she had to live through. She’s a powerful young woman.
Life for some of these young people has been difficult from before birth, and even right after birth. At some point, these young people were babies, toddlers, youngsters and, somehow in those early formative years, something went wrong. The results of what went wrong are not always seen until later in life, in those teen years. And, sometimes, it is hard to watch the turmoil that they often have to go through.
The teenage years can be tumultuous at the best of times.
A couple of years ago, the new Yukon Children’s Act was adopted. Integrated into the new act were two of the Anglin recommendations: the opening of the office of the child advocate and the raising of the age-of-care option to 25 years.
I believe young people who have been in the permanent care of the government, and often have been traumatized both outside and inside that system, often only “come up for air” when they are in their early to mid 20s.
And then they need support to get an education, to deal with their anger and hurt and to turn their lives around. Better to invest in them and help them build a better society for us all. These are the young people who will be our leaders one day.
Have we served them well in their youth?
We all need love, unconditional love. That’s not always easy to find.
Sometimes these young folk can turn their lives around even when love is in short supply.
What does it take?
Sometimes it can be finding a stable job, sometimes it can be hearing supportive words of encouragement, perhaps finding a stable and loving mate or even discovering Yukon College and a world of learning.
It is finding respect, compassion and support from someone, somewhere. Any one of us can make that difference.
Perhaps this Christmas season we can reach out and make a difference in a young person’s life. A friendly smile, a donation to the Whitehorse Food Bank, the Teen Parent Centre, Angel’s Nest, Kaushee’s Place, or any other of the organizations who help care for our less fortunate.
Many of our youth who have been in care have to make use of these services, as well as some who have not been in care. Independence is difficult to attain and fraught with problems when a youth is coming out of a residential-care facility.
There are good people working in the system; there are good people working outside the system.
I believe that we all want the same for our young people. We want to keep them safe, help them to be compassionate and happy independent members of our society.
Again my thanks to Samantha for her courage to speak out, keep your dreams alive, Samantha.
Thank you to the Yukon News for helping all of us to be a little more aware of the difficulties some of our community members face, young and old.
Hopefully we can together make a difference for the better.