February 7, 2016
As you likely know from media reports, BC’s Representative for Children and Youth, Bernard Richard, yesterday released a scathing report on the death of Alex Gervais, an 18-year old Métis youth in care.
This report is a devastating indictment of the BC Liberal government’s handling of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and Alex’s death puts a human face on the real-life consequences of misguided, wrongheaded political priorities.
I strongly encourage you all to read the report, but I want to quote briefly from the Executive Summary here:
On a mid-September morning in 2015, in an act of obvious desperation, an 18-year old Métis youth named Alex took his own life by smashing through the window of his fourth-storey Abbotsford hotel room and plunging to the ground below.
Through an in-depth investigation into the life and death of this troubled youth, the Representative for Children and Youth has developed an understanding of what led to such a tragic outcome. It is hoped that this report and its recommendations will help prevent other children and youth from experiencing a similar fate.
Alex lived a life that none of us would wish on our own children, or any child. He experienced repeated abuse while in the care of his biological parents, both of whom were dealing with significant mental illness. Although child welfare authorities in two provinces were involved with Alex early on, his subsequent journey through the child welfare system was marked by constant instability, repeated missed opportunities for permanency, and trauma.
As I’ve said before, while I don’t agree with the BC Liberals on almost anything, their record on the issue of kids in care – particularly First Nations and Métis kids – makes me angry. I can’t imagine anyone reading this report and not being absolutely furious about the way Alex Gervais was treated by government his entire short life.
Surely in BC we can do better than this. If you share my anger, I encourage you to join me and your fellow CUPE members in working to defeat this mean-spirited regressive government on May 9.
Paul Faoro, President, CUPE BC