Mary Burton, Fearless R2W, Canada
Mary Burton never thought she’d help to start an organization. Burton was separated from her parents and siblings when she was placed in foster care as a child, as part of the child welfare system’s 1960s scoop, which, along with other policies over more than a century, routinely separated Indigenous children in Canada from their families. After she successfully fought the child welfare system for custody of her own children and grandchildren, she spent the next 20 years helping friends and families from her living room do the same.
Roughly 90% of children in the child welfare system in Winnipeg, Canada are Indigenous. In 2014, Burton joined forces with other grandmothers and a local activist to form FearlessR2W to give members of her community power to fight for their families.
“At Fearless, we educate and advocate for parents to the point where they’re no longer fearful of the system. We educate families on legislation, on system literacy. We also educate them on other systems that are within CFS: housing, addiction support, education. We work within the system to equip our families with the tools to succeed. We have as many learning circles as we possibly can. We also have a large social media presence. I am motivated to do this work because I believe that families should be together.”
— Mary Burton
Visit the Child Welfare Parent Advocacy Movement section of the Toolkit for Transformation developed by IPAN in partnership with Rise to:
>> Read the interview with Mary Burton, Parent and Grandparent Advocate, Winnepeg, Canada