I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting down to dinner when a youth told me he had nothing to eat at home

He said not to worry he could wait until tomorrow

Brampton is so out of the way for you, he said

I brought him fast food

A bandaid to temporarily cover a much bigger wound

He is 16 and living without the care of parents to monitor that he eats and goes to school

I find it miraculous that he even attends school most days

Even if it’s just for some cereal and a chat

If not for his circumstances,

This kid could have been on a sports team, getting good grades at school and eating a home cooked meal every night

Instead his father is dead and his mother has disappeared with the guy that tried to beat this kid up

Yeah sure he gets some money from the system

The system that is built to see him fail

After his rent is paid, he has two hundred and some odd dollars left for the month

And he’s 16 remember

So he doesn’t know how to budget

Hell, I don’t either

Sometimes he spends his money on stupid shit

Like we all do

This month is cheque hasn’t come in yet and he’s too proud to ask for help

Even from me

So I ask him if he’s eaten the night before and his answer is hesitant

But it’s always the same

There is no food in the house

So he eats at school

And then often he gets sick because his stomach isn’t used to the food

His doctor said his stomach has shrunk from malnutrition

This is where we live

This is Canada

This is where we are so proud to call home

Cheering on Olympian’s

While kids go to school with nothing in their stomach

And the whole system knows about it

In fact it always did

From children’s aid societies to educational institutions to income supports

This kid has been in the system since birth

He never had a chance did he?

Does it make you uncomfortable?

To think that tonight while you sit down with your kids…your partner, there’s a kid somewhere out there

Not too far from you in fact

Who is willing to go another night without food

So that his youth worker doesn’t have to drive out of her way

It should

Make you uncomfortable

It should make us all uncomfortable

There is an entire population of kids like this

Who are falling through the cracks of a society that only pretends to care for them anyway

This is unacceptable

This is not a society that I want to be a part of

We must do better

I want to be a part of a society that looks after its weakest and most vulnerable members

I do not want to throw them to the wolves and let them fend for themselves

Because the circumstances of their lives were unlucky

I want to be proud of a country that looks after youth who’s parents stopped caring for them a long time ago

I thought I was already part of a country like that

I was wrong

Oh Canada

It’s time you do better

Advertisements