Addressing Rhetoric System-Speak – Velvet Martin

Addressing Rhetoric System-Speak – VM, 01-2019

Rant: Admittedly, hackles are up when I hear rhetoric System-speak, phrases such as: ”That is to be expected”, “That’s unfortunate”, “Well-monitored” make my blood boil. 

As I age, I may be getting crankier because my tolerance towards indifference and misinformation is at a low. Particularly, in a world where evidence is abundant even within mainstream media which most persons have access to; certainly professionals in humanities do. There is simply no excuse for defending a broken system that habitually devastates lives.

I was once passive, gentle-spirited, non-confrontational towards Authoritative figures and minions. After-all, professionals “must” be correct. Never-mind niggling internal warnings to the contrary. That was then – before they KILLED my own child – this is now.

“She was medically-fragile”. Those seven broken limbs, which include 3 femur (thigh bone) breaks, “must” be because of her rare Syndrome. “Believe me, if we had any concerns, we’d act.” “You’re only one voice.” “She’s routinely seen by numerous medical professionals.” “Placements are well-screened and monitored”. “We shouldn’t question the System.” Except, each and every statement was proved to be a bogus ascertainment.

Bone density tests were “normal”. Medical billing records demonstrate lack of services for 3 consecutive years. No social-worker made face-to-face visits for lapses of up to 14 months. Three schools in differing cities each provided similar incident reports documenting provision of spoiled food, direction to “fill” the child up “with water” although she weighed but 49 pounds at 13 years of age; bruises, contusions, inappropriate apparel… The list goes on and on.

Do NOT continue to spread these meaningless assurances. Just don’t. I will not tolerate lies. I will call you and any other being out with evidence to the contrary.

My child is not the exception. Rather, she is but one individual amongst hundreds of victims the previous Government chose to hide and whom current one continues to evade. Six-hundred and eighty-five hidden child fatalities within one Province alone!

As a journalist remarked, “The System is a serial-killer”. Were anyone else other than Government responsible for the deaths of hundreds of victims, there would be Public outrage; demands for Police investigation and prosecution.

Not only have I been a recipient of support services, I have actively worked in rehabilitation with youth and adults, spent years as hospital liaison to administration and provided care to to children while family gained strength for reunification. I have walked the talk intimately and followed the plight of Elders who offer decades of generational wisdom.

I have grieved and supported others whose children were failed to death. I have attended so many Court sessions involving child fatalities that I’ve sadly lost count of the victim toll. Never once have I seen the Office of the Child Advocate present. Rather, it is always familiar faces, caring grass-roots individuals and organizations without the benefit of compensation for time and efforts.

It is genocide, flat out Eugenics. Families wrongly targeted due to race, extraordinary medical conditions, martial status, education, poverty, false accusation, faulty screening.

Meanwhile, others who repeatedly wrong children continue to do so unscathed. Some connected with more than single fatalities still permitted access to vulnerable lives!

I was there along with others pushing for legal release from Publication Bans to promote accountability, change and respect for those innocent lives diminished by unfavourable, laws. Legislation which shielded wrongdoers and System workers – under guise of protecting victims and surviving loved ones – from inspection.

I cannot ethically remain silent, allowing misinformation to spread. I will not tolerate ignorance nor falsehoods. Minimization of injury to our most vulnerable persons – children, individuals with diverse ability and our elders – is frankly, disgusting.

I will say the same directly to anyone’s face who claims otherwise. As long as I am breathing, I will not allow bullies to perpetuate harm without a challenge. Neither amongst those directly wielding a hand, nor others who protect the System through their silence or assertion that all is well when it clearly is not.

“the medical kids in care I have met had needs that were too complex for cognitively challenged parents, or parents with active addictions affecting ability to parent.”

I take issue with this statement. It is prejudiced, callous and incorrect to assume individuals with challenges cannot be taught skills to successfully parent. I have known parents with cognitive impairment and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder who are loving and capable. At times, extra supports may be required, but who hasn’t needed a helping hand in life during low points!

It is both beneficial to families and cost-effective for the System to provide supports directly. Cognitively-challenged persons do not love their children less than those more academically-inclined. Disability need not equate poor parenting. 

Prejudice continues pervasively in Society towards numerous groups of persons based upon race, culture, ability, education, marital status. Individuals who grew up under the System’s care are also penalized for lacking extended family support!

Alberta legally permitted the sterilization of persons some considered “mentally defective”. Hell, those scholars who inflicted suffering on vulnerable lives continue to be celebrated with roads and parks named for them even today! Those ugly fkers robbed individuals of the right to parent and benefit of care in elder years by extended kin. This is not history of centuries ago; rather, I have known and call some of the survivors friends who are living here and now with the aftermath of such attitudes towards fellow neighbours. 

A female with strabismus (crossed eyes) due to premature birth was institutionalized at Alberta Mischener Centre. She has been in a stable, loving marriage for decades. When she and her spouse decided to begin a family, found they could not conceive. They were devastated to discover her fallopian tubes had been severed; sliced repetitively during surgery in childhood to ensure she could not procreate. The woman is my good friend. She is an amazing person, a kind-hearted soul, advocate and speaker who would have been a wonderful, caring mother. 

A man I’ve come to know is Indigenous; his first language Cree. He was wrongly labeled cognitively-challenged because he could not communicate in English. He was also Institutionalized and victimized of reproductive rights. 

It is not strictly cognitive delays which are targeted either. Physical disability is preyed upon too. Examples:

A couple – both with Cerebral Palsy who utilize wheelchairs for mobility – became immediate targets upon birth of their child. Forced to prove themselves worthy of parenting to strangers. The assigned caseworker knew so little about CP that she actually asked the couple whether she ought to “wear a mask” to prevent “catching” their condition. She also inquired whether or not the baby would develop Cerebral Palsy. Ffs, these ignorant persons hold Authority to make life-altering decisions!

“Marie” (a pseudonym) a single mother parenting 2 young girls, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. As the disease progressed, daily tasks became physically challenging so mom responsibly approached Human Services for support. Instead, she was offered literature on adoption for her children. Mom wisely sought Media attention.  Immediately, the Government responded to Public outcry claiming, “misunderstanding” and promised in-home assistance. That arrangement lasted a few months, long enough for publicity to die down. The Ministry then told Mom that it would no longer provide funding for services so she fled the Province rather than risk her precious children be taken by the System. 

This is the reality for far too many families who have done nothing to warrant invasive tactics. There are covert threats transpiring all the time. It matters little whether families are loving and simply tasked with extraordinary circumstances. Innocent of any wrong-doing, families can and do become targets handled callously by Authorities as if they have actually intentionally caused harm to a child. 

Other examples include parents who are vocal for their children’s rights to inclusive education. Advocacy is falsely labeled , “Difficult to work with”. Frequently basic human rights are trampled as the families are bullied into silence. No one is immune: This scenario happened to a well-spoken, mild-mannered teacher. When they attempted to advocate for greater supports needed for their own child with special needs in the education system, threat of Guardianship occurred. 

Not a single one of us is infallible to change in health – physical or mental – through sudden accident, disease or natural aging processes. 

Certainly there are “incredible” foster placements and in unique circumstances, the sole option. However, nothing can take the place of kin. Individuals search lifetimes to reconnect to missing roots, culture, loved ones. 

Unless abuse or severe neglect exists, there is no logical nor ethical grounds not to support natural families – be that teaching skills or providing funding for extraordinary services – directly as opposed to displacing lives.

These issues are well-expressed by colleagues of Family-Centred Care Practice that participated in an Alberta Primetime Segment: 


Velvet Martin



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