Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 30, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
TutMiay, October 30, 1973-THE LETHBRIDQE HERALD-3 'One of the ways to get out of poverty IB to gain status in your own eyes and in the eyes of the community' AT TIMES, as many as 80 per cent of Indians on the Blood Reserve are on welfare. Leona Desjardins, social services consultant to the Blood band, says about 65 per cent of residents on the reserve often called the richest in Canada receive social assistance. The types of jobs avilable to Indians are seasonal and low-paying, she said. There are few employment opportunities on the reserve, and for various reasons, Indians are hesi- tant to leave. "One of the ways to get out of poverty is to gain status in your own eyes and in the eyes of the com- munity and the kinds of jobs available to Indians do not enhance Ms. Desjardins said. People with temporary jobs never gain status and therefore find it difficult to break the poverty cycle, she explained. Arnold Fox, a welfare case worker with the Blood band, said Indians do not want to move off the reserve because of the problems they face adapting to city life. Indians, he said, have difficulty finding employ- ment off the reserve, but when jobs are available, there is often no way to get to them because of the lack of adequate public transportation servicing the area. Ms. Desjardins said the Blood Reserve is often called the richest in the country because there are a lew rich families. But there are some areas on the reserve that are like inner-city ghettos, she added. One of the most serious social problems associated with the high percentage of people on welfare is child neglect. This problem, Ms. Desjardins says, is aggravated by a high number of multi-problem families, and an almost-critical lack of good housing. Last winter, there were several people living in tents because there were no houses available. In another case, Ms. Desjardins said there were 26 or 28 people living in a three-room home. The Blood band social services department has developed a program of taking children from multi- problem families and placing them in temporary foster homes. This allows a counsellor to work with the parents and at least try to resolve some of the problems. It also affords some protection for the children. Children are placed in temporary homes with the consent of the paAnts, eliminating the need to go through family court. The court system is a harsh approach, she says, primarily because neglected children on Indian reserves are traditionally apprehended by the RCMP. In white society, children needing foster care are taken from their parents by a child welfare worker. Continued on Page 7 Detroit bedroom One indication of the critical housing shortage on the Blood Reserve is that 15 people live in the one- room house above. Their quarters are so cramped that children are forced to sleep in the old car park- ed in the yard The homes in the background behind the make-shift bredroom belong to band employees.