Troubled children sent south

The territorial government is shipping children in care to Saskatchewan. Last year, at least nine Yukon children were sent to Ranch Ehrlo Society -- a Regina-based nonprofit that offers assessment, treatment, education and support services, according to its website.

The territorial government is shipping children in care to Saskatchewan.

Last year, at least nine Yukon children were sent to Ranch Ehrlo Society—a Regina-based nonprofit that offers assessment, treatment, education and support services, according to its website.

“First Nation people have been suffering because their kids were taken to residential school,” said Independent MLA John Edzerza.

“And now they’ve found another way to send our kids away.”

In 2007/08, the Yukon government gave Ranch Ehrlo more than $1.2 million in sole-sourced contracts.

The money covered 15 contracts for nine youth.

Eight years ago, only two children were sent to Ranch Ehrlo, according to the government contract registry. That cost the government $150,583.

Since then, the number of children sent south has continued to grow. And so has the cost.

Some Yukon youth have spent up to five years at Ranch Ehrlo.

The average stay for Yukon children is three years, according to the contracts.

“It doesn’t do any good to once again separate kids from their family,” said Edzerza.

“And Regina is a long way away.”

There are currently six Yukon youth at Ranch Ehrlo, said Social Services spokesperson Pat Living on Friday morning.

“This program is very specialized and would meet needs that would be difficult to respond to here,” she said.

The territorial government offers child-abuse treatment services, but does not have a home or facility to meet these needs, said Living.

A year ago, half the positions at Yukon child-abuse treatment services were vacant, including the supervisor position.

“It’s my understanding some of those positions have been filled—I couldn’t say if all of them have been,” said Living.

There are, basically, no social workers here, said Carcross/Tagish First Nation health and wellness director Lawrie Crawford.

“Every two to three weeks we see someone for half a day,” she said.

“They are having a hard time serving the region.”

There should be a facility for traumatized children in the territory, said Edzerza.

“If we can put a hospital in every community, surely we can put a facility here for youth.”

A man who has three children in Ranch Ehrlo contacted Edzerza.

“They took all his kids,” said Edzerza.

“And he does not know how to get them out of this situation.”

Some kids, who were sent out, ended up in trouble with the law, he said.

“As soon as they turn 18, they ship them back to their community and wash their hands of them.”

About 70 per cent of Ranch Erhlo’s population is made up of kids between the ages of 13 and 18.

But it also houses children 12 and younger.

Social workers refer children to Ranch Ehrlo who require intensive care and treatment for specific problems, according to its website.

“We want our own cultural, land-based treatment centre,” said Edzerza.

“To be out on the land itself is really healing.”

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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