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Multiple Indigenous youth living rough in region

Youth range in age from 11 to 17
Encampment at 100 Victoria St. N. in Kitchener | Germain Ma

If you look around the region it's not hard to spot multiple homeless encampments. 

Residents in those encampments include Indigenous youth. 

"We currently know of 4 to 5 Indigenous youth in encampments, their ages range between 11 and 17," said Amanda Trites the program co-coordinator for the court services team at the Healing of the Seven Generations.

Trites speaking with CityNews 570 said, the reason many of these youth are choosing to live in encampments is because their families are dealing with trauma from residential schools and the history of Indigenous genocide in Canada. 

"They're the end product of residential schools. Their families have a lot of inter-generational trauma so their parents struggle with a lot of the typical issues."

Trites along with staff at her organization have visited and spoken with many of these homeless Indigenous youth.

She explained many are facing adult decisions they don't have the capacity to make and are vulnerable to addictions and abuse. 

Trites said, another issue facing local organizations attempting to help these youth is bill C-92. 

The bill was passed in 2019 and created a certain set of standards for how Indigenous families and children are to be treated. 

This includes interactions between police and welfare agencies. 

"When children services gets involved with these families now, under bill C-92 they are taking a new approach of not apprehending and placing children outside of family. However, what they're doing is failing to supporting those families." 

Trites said, that failure comes from under-funding and under-manning local Indigenous organizations that could help these youth and families. 

"With truth and reconciliation there are a lot of changes that have been put into place but, those changes are not being given the proper attention or funding or manpower." 

She added in her organization alone there are only 11 staff members attempting to run 23 different programs.