Is Canada failing Métis children? An examination of the challenges and barriers to improved health.


In this article, Tait highlights the social and economic vulnerability of Métis children despite Canada's affluence. Tait asserts that colonization transmitted infectious diseases, enacted violence on Indigenous peoples (physical, mental, spiritual), and undermined Indigenous cultures and worldviews; the cumulative effects of colonization have persisted within Métis communities. This is evident in the economic, social and health inequities between Métis communities and Settler Canadians. Tait discusses how health and social disparities are exacerbated for Métis children because there is failure to provide targeted programs and services. Tait illustrates how these barriers are historically linked to federal government policies aimed to marginalize Métis populations and never fully recognize their rights.

Excerpt from the Author's Introduction, Page 30:

"In a country as affluent and stable as Canada, it is surprising that poverty and despair persist for some people at levels comparable to conditions in some of the poorest countries in the world. For a large number of Canadian Métis children, being vulnerable to endemic poverty, food insecurity, social marginalization and violence has been a way of life for their whole life. The European colonization of Canada led to some of the most destructive government policies anywhere in the world, policies that brought about the decimation of Métis as well as First Nations and Inuit populations by infectious disease, violence, and the active suppression of culture and identity (Kirmayer, Brass and Tait, 2000:608). These policies set the stage early in Métis history for a legacy of social inequities and poor health that persists even now and is most evident in the health and social status of Métis children. Although we can identify some of the challenges to improving the health of Métis children, there is a lack of specific data on Métis people. Unfortunately, we do not have an evidence-based foundation on which to build culturally sound and effective health care and social-service policies and programming to directly address the needs of Métis children.

From the research evidence that does exist, it is clear that on almost all quality-of-life indicators, Métis children do not fair well compared to non-Aboriginal children (National Council of Welfare, 2007:24). While some of the known disparities and their sources can be tackled through improved supports and services for Métis children and families, others, such as endemic poverty and structural inequities, present challenges that require broad-based changes to public policy at federal, provincial and territorial levels. Without political and social will that acknowledges and acts on the unique configuration of health determinants affecting the well-being of Métis children, it is unlikely that we can make real and sustained improvement." (30).


Publication Information

Tait, Caroline L. "Is Canada failing Métis children? An examination of the challenges and barriers to improved health. Canadian Supplement to The State of the World’s Children 2009: Aboriginal Children’s health: leaving no child behind." Ottawa: Unicef Canada, 2009. 30-36.

Tait, Caroline L.
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