Starting this project, I knew that my views on decolonization and indigenous relations would be vastly different than my target market’s. When talking to my mom about the issue she brought up the inconsistencies in medical care when treating aboriginal children and families, and eventually we landed on the topic of the foster care system.
Initially, I wanted to focus on the failure of the government dating back to the Sixties Scoop. I knew I wanted to focus on the individuals to gain empathy from the target market, but I knew I couldn’t call the children broken or incomplete, and at the same time I couldn’t villainize the parents partaking in the foster care system who were providing positive experiences.
With this in mind, I originally landed on the phrase “Missing But Not Lost,” intended to address the Indigenous identities of the children separated from their communities who’s culture/language/family ties were “missing but not lost,” intending to build awareness for the issue and inspire change in elections. However, this sounded too close to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women campaigns, and it pointed fingers in the wrong directions. It was through ideation with peers and professors like Vida that landed the idea of the “FOUND” posters. The idea of being found vs. yet to be put the exact positive spin on the campaign that I needed, and gave footing to the funding it needed. Although this removed it from the direct problem (intergenerational trauma and a lack of parenting skills due to the Canadian Government) it re-contextualized the campaign into one of hope and community building, not loss and mourning.
To keep with the positive, youth centred theme I chose to utilize bright colours and children’s illustration. I wanted the posters to be eye catching and dynamic to make them stand out. (See mood boards above.) I understood that the target market would easily look past a regular poster with a child’s face on it, so I wanted to play to the emotional appeal by showing showing a child in a way that they would want their own to feel. Happy, whole, and inspired. This is also why I decided to incorporate an animated aspect into the campaign, to catch the eye and confront them with an image that seemed alive as opposed to static.
These animations could take form in a number of ways. A short 5 second ad with a simple found logo and link at the bottom, a long form narrated commercial, replacing the photography and illustrations exactly the same as the posters above, an animated card on the website, etc.
I also decided to include a website to provide an opportunity for education and further explanation of the initiative. The first step in removing cultural barriers is always education, allowing the viewer to build sympathy and de-mystifying the other group step by step. At Found.ca, the visuals match that of the poster, and then provides culturally relevant information for each of the illustrations to start educating the viewer in an approachable and comfortable way. Now that you have an emotional tie to the main child shown (Marcus) and you feel like you understand him a little, it explains the reality of the situation lower down the page as to not shock you with it straight away.
Overall, I wanted this campaign to be an approachable, positive way to address, educate on, and fund the very intense process that is rebuilding culture within indigenous youth that have been separated from their communities. The Found project builds up and helps fund organizations that help youth to reconnect with their cultures, languages, communities, and families. These are local youth groups, night-classes for Indigenous languages, Indigenous lead art camps, etc. that contribute to a sustainable community children in foster care would not have had they been without services that the Found project provides.
Although I’m happy with my final product, research, and strategy rationale, I think my ideation process and workflow could have been streamlined. I stressed myself out too much in the beginning stages and delayed my working time significantly. In the final product, I am happy with the aesthetic and art direction. I worked very hard on the copyrighting and hierarchy but recognize that there is always room for me to improve in those two areas. If it makes sense, I’d give myself a low A for execution and a B for process.
Indigenous Families are separated 3x more often than white families in favour of placing the children into a broken underfunded foster care system.
“The Sixties Scoop” refers to the mass separation of indigenous children from their families in 1960’s Canada, where they would be taken away to Residential School. Although promised as a temporary action, almost all of the children fell extremely ill, lost the skill to communicate using the language they shared with their families, or died inside these schools. Instead, the children who survived became displaced, forced to assimilate into white communities that refused to accept them on an equal level.
Cut to present day, and the Canadian Government has just been sued for the exact same offence. Indigenous families are separated by social workers and government officials three times as often as white families. This is due to prejudices and misrepresentation of First Nations in Canadian healthcare, as well as a long-standing double standard regarding what it takes for a parent to be deemed as “fit” to care for children. For example, although a white parent and indigenous parent might be enduring similar struggles, the bar for the indigenous parent is unrealistically higher. Because of this, children are taken away much more often than in white families even though the household could be exactly the same. In Manitoba during the early 80s, provincial officials estimated they took in 600-700 indigenous children every month.
“A recent study found that 52% of children under 15 in foster care are indigenous. Yet Indigenous children are just under eight per cent of the under-15 population in Canada today.
More than 90 per cent of Manitoba’s 11,000 kids in care are Indigenous. In B.C. 64 per cent of our 6,804 kids in care identify as Indigenous, even though they make up just under 10 per cent of the population under 19.”
Katie Hyslop, TheTyee.ca
The children would then be placed in chronically underfunded foster care systems, where the adults responsible for care are grossly under assessed and without proper monthly allowance. This meant children were placed in abusive homes without sufficient opportunity for care, often with no opportunity to maintain their culture. This underfunding is the direct fault of the Canadian government, and the system they operate on is still modelled after the settlers ideas of First Nations upon first contact.
“Like every social issue facing Indigenous people in Canada, the origins date back to colonization.
The earliest settlers’ writings show their misunderstanding of Indigenous child-rearing and how their feelings of racial and cultural superiority clouded their judgments.
Early missionaries saw First Nations child-rearing practices as ‘negligent, irresponsible and uncivilized’ because they refused to physically punish their children and respected them as individuals, instead of seeing them as clean slates on which to write. Settler governments viewed Indigenous people, adults and children, as wards of the state. The 1876 Indian Act, …effectively gave government control over First Nations people’s lives, dictating where and how they would live, hunt, work and play…And how their children would be raised. Three years after the Indian Act was passed, then-prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald sent MP Nicholas F. Davin to the United States to study its system of industrial boarding schools for Native American children.”
Katie Hyslop, TheTyee.ca
To say this issue is multi-faceted would be an understatement. It is a perfect example of the cyclical damage caused by residential schools and the Canadian governments neglect to repair it. It demonstrates the depth of the mis-representation of Indigenous families, while showcasing the direct role that the government plays in perpetuation those stereotypes. As of September of 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Indigenous groups suing the Canadian government. It was intended that as of 2020, each child affected up until 2006 would be payed out a maximum of $40 000 dollars each for the trauma the government caused. The Trudeau Government announced in November that they planned to settle the class-action lawsuit after asking for an appeal in October.
With this project, I hope to do two things.
Educate non-indigenous Canadians on the humanitarian crisis and cyclical, deep-rooted nature of the displacement of indigenous children in the foster care system in an engaging, emotionally appealing way that bridges the gap of these being real families, as opposed to groups and statistics on the news. I want families who aren’t necessarily invested in the affairs of first nations children to realize the depth of the issue and that our past of residential schools are not yet behind us.
Create a call to action for those who are entitled to compensation to utilize an advertised service (most likely a website, or office in their city) to take the next steps in receiving compensation.