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SOS, helping build leaders of tomorrow

January 24, 2013

The Idle No More movement gives voice to the burgeoning discontent of First Nations people. It is hard not to think of the lives lost and ruined by residential schools, the grave injustices perpetrated in the name of education and religion, the destruction of families caused by substance abuse, the cut of racism and the drudge of poverty. It is clear that more must be done by our governments to address the many serious issues they face. It is also clear that true change requires First Nations people also assume responsibility for moving themselves beyond the yoke and consequences of a colonial arrangement.

BC statistics illustrate the tragic disproportion of Aboriginal children in foster care. Aboriginal people represent just 4.8% of BC’s population but, as of August 2011, 56% of children in foster care are Aboriginal. [Source BC Stats report: Aboriginal Population in British Columbia: A Study of Selected Indicators for Off-Reserve and Urban Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Populations November 2011.]

SOS Childrens Village BC  (SOS) works with many Aboriginal children and youth who are working their way through the BC foster system, helping them by providing stable loving homes, counselling, job hunting assistance as well as educational and emotional support. I met one young man at the recent SOS Christmas party who is one of a new, educated and purposeful generation of young Aboriginals. His name is David Perry. Just 19 years old, he carries himself with confidence and dignity. His speech is soft and thoughtful, his smile friendly. He shakes my hand and we sit down at one of the tables to chat.

David tells me that he has lived at the Village in Surrey (in one of the five homes built for children in foster care by SOS) for four to five years. SOS has made a huge difference in his life. He tells me that it is different in the Village and there is “way more support”. It feels like his home and the people who look after him feel like his mom and dad. SOS also provided helpful counselling when difficult issues confronted him after he met with his birth mother for the first time. It is a community with his foster parents, neighbours and Mark Thomas (SOS Clinical Advisor) and Corina Carroll-Layfield (SOS Program Director) all there to help. He says that the kids also support one another, that they are one big family.

Before he moved to the Village, David says that he was lazy when it came to doing his homework. He is now registered in his first year at Kwantlan College and says he is a pretty good student. He has just finished writing his exams and hopes he did well. David has already beaten the odds. According to the report Aboriginal Population in British Columbia, only 27% of BC’s Aboriginal children complete high school.

David has a clear vision for his future. He is studying Political Science because he is passionate about politics with his interest first being piqued in Grade 7. He would like to work at a local MLA office (local MLAs take note). “Our society needs a change, there is too much violence,” he says. Many young people, including young Aboriginals feel disillusioned by politics and believe there is no value in voting. David doesn’t understand people who don’t vote, saying, “I can’t wait until I can!”

I ask him what he would like to do with his life. He looks me right in the eyes and, without a hint of hesitation, responds, “I want to be the first indigenous prime minister of Canada.” I give him a big high-five.

Who knows where dreams will take you? Who knows what it will take to achieve the dreams? What is certain is that it is a lot easier to get there when you have people who believe in you and give you support when you need it. That’s what SOS does for the kids in our society who most need our support. Check them out at and lend your hand to children in BC in any way you can. You can also learn more from my previous blog posts An SOS Oasis and A Village’s Answer to Trauma, Turmoil and Tragedy .

And to David, I wish you all the best in achieving your goals and commend you for showing a path for other Aboriginal youth. An indigenous Prime Minister would be a fabulous achievement for Canada.

 Please come back to visit.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Laureen Ens permalink
    January 25, 2013 8:56 am

    Great article Pat! It is so nice to read about positive change in what often seems to be a world filled with hopelessness. Great blog!

    • January 25, 2013 10:31 am

      Thanks! SOS BC supports many children facing huge obstacles. And they are having great success. Now, if there were more SOS BC locations even more children could be helped.

  2. Lois Bouchard permalink
    January 24, 2013 1:11 pm

    Once again, Patricia, a home run! Wonderful to read and share your experiences with SOS Children’s Village. We’re so proud of David and all the fine parents, kids, staff, volunteers and supporters who make up this ‘family’.

    • January 24, 2013 1:32 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment Lois. The family atmosphere was one of the things that most struck me about SOS. It was clear from everyone I spoke to that SOS Children’s Village provides much-needed refuge and support. While on the one hand it is sad that such services are needed, on the other how lucky we are to have it.

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