Together We Raise Tomorrow

This week Albertans were horrified to learn that 741 children known to child welfare have died since 1999—596 more than previously reported.

Not surprisingly, the tendency among most has been to point the finger of blame directly at the province—elected officials as well as government staff.

And, while that is tempting—after all a scapegoat allows each of us to deflect any responsibility rather than lean into what is a very complex issue. But, if we’re going to be really honest, the blame belongs on the shoulders of a much broader group of stakeholders.

Since the post-war boom of the 1940s to 1960s the majority of citizens have abdicated much of their power and responsibility, handing it over to a government who in turn has become accustomed to treating the public more as customers rather than as partners who have a shared responsibility.

So why are we surprised then when our most precious resource—our children—fall between the cracks of an overloaded government trying to stem the tide of increasingly complicated issues without our help?

Thinking of ourselves as customers can be likened to us putting our tax dollars into a vending machine and pulling a lever to get the exact service we want. If we don’t get the services we want, those we feel we are entitled to, or believe are best for the public good, anger is often the result.

But, being angry with government is misdirected because a more ideal approach is instead one where everyone, including government at all levels, views the community as a partner, and people as citizens rather than customers. When people who live in a community see themselves as citizens, there is a greater commitment and accountability to the well-being of the entire community.

Working in partnership with government, the community sector, and business, there is the ability to create the future rather than wait for it, a choice is made to utilize collective power rather than defer it to government, and there is a greater understanding that sustainable change in a community can only happen when citizens step up to the plate.

There is no doubt we are in the midst of a fundamental turning point in history that is changing the way we think, communicate, and ultimately how we will live in our communities. Critical to this turning point, will be nurturing and supporting a shift in individual values from a current emphasis on materialistic priorities, to values which are more aligned with emphasizing, supporting, and strengthening our interconnectedness, interdependence, and ultimate symbiotic relationships.

The deeper collaboration that will be driven by these values will help develop new capacities for a society and an economy that doesn’t yet exist. As citizens we’ll need to play a key role in building and strengthening local relationships, developing community leaders, and supporting the meshworks that will be essential for ensuring every child has what they need to thrive within this evolving new world.

The transparency the province has demonstrated in releasing the data in combination with the invitation they have extended to hundreds of organizations and individuals to take part in a two-day roundtable in Edmonton on January 28th and 29th is an important step. The event will “consider ways to increase transparency, improve the child-death review system and make information about deaths public without compromising privacy rights. It will be live-streamed online”.

As the government has so eloquently phrased it within their new Social Policy and as they are now demonstrating with concrete action —“Together We Raise Tomorrow”.


Posted on 01-11-14

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