Video: Respondent Series | Cora Morgan, First Nations Family Advocate on the State of Child Welfare in Manitoba

Programmed as part of our winter solo exhibition Sweetgrass and Honey by Skeena Reece, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art is extremely honored to have hosted a Respondent Series talk by First Nations Family Advocate, Cora Morgan on Thursday, March 8, at 7pm.

In 2015, when Morgan began her work as advocate for the newly formed Assembly of Manitoba Chief’s First Nations Family Advocate Office, there were more than 10,000 children in care in Manitoba, with roughly 90 percent of those children being Indigenous. Current numbers are closer to 11,000 and growing. The astonishing rate at which children are being taken from their families is cause for great alarm.

With immediate and urgent links to central themes addressed in Skeena Reece’s exhibition, for her talk, Morgan will speak to the present-day reality of child welfare in Manitoba, as well as make links between contemporary policies and those that formed the Residential School System in Canada, and their intergenerational effects. Morgan will moreover outline ways in which the justice system, and Child and Family Services (CFS) entrench and enable the current conditions. She will speak about her work as First Nations Family Advocate, including the importance of asserting jurisdiction over, and operating outside of the Child Welfare System. With stories and anecdotal evidence, Morgan will move between structural analysis, advocacy initiatives and lived experience to create a multi-faceted picture of what we are facing as a society.

Cora Morgan is a First Nations mother from Sagkeeng First Nation. Her most cherished role in life is being a mother, and she is very passionate about the well being of children.

Professionally, Morgan is the First Nations Family Advocate for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs First Nations Family Advocate Office, which opened June 1, 2015 and is the first of its kind in Canada. Morgan studied Native Studies and Economic Development from the University of Manitoba, and spent much of her career in leadership roles working in Employment Training and Economic Development. Eventually her interests and career choices lead her towards restorative justice, and an eight-year term as Executive Director of Onashowewin Justice Circle. Morgan brings a commitment to understanding the intergenerational effects of residential schools and links to current issues with foster care. Identifying a direct link between the Manitoba Child and Family Services and the justice system is what specifically motivates her in her current role as First Nations Family Advocate.