At the CUPW Human Rights Committee meeting held in Ottawa from May 25 to 27, 2013, members broke into groups to hold Kitchen Table Conversations as part of the Rethink Child care campaign. This is an edited excerpt of the conversation with the Aboriginal Working Group.
How has child care affected your life, work, community or family?
Darlene Kaboni: When I started at the post office in ’87, I couldn’t find anybody who I could trust to watch my child because I was on the graveyard shift. That was a big thing for me, to be able to leave my child and trust somebody to leave him with. I was fortunate enough to have family come and live with me. When my siblings went to college and university, they stayed with me. I didn’t charge them anything and in return they were there to watch him while I worked graveyard. So, I was fortunate in that sense but I do know that not everybody is as fortunate as that.
Jenny Butler: Well for five years I was a term with Canada Post and of course I had to work a couple of jobs because of being a term. They can give you a minimum of an hour coming in and you don’t know which day and what time—it could be midnights, afternoons or day shift. A lot of the times I could only accept late afternoons or midnight shift. Then when I got permanent, the only child care I could do to work around with my family life was the graveyard shift. I have been on graveyard shift for 17 years now and my daughter just turned 17 in February.
Allan Kakaway: It was in Edmonton in the early ’90s when I took my child to child care. She was just about 3 years old then and we went to pick her up at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon… They couldn’t find my daughter and it was horrifying, like holy smokes, I mean you guys don’t know where she went? We looked all over the place and finally after about 20 minutes, she came walking with a big smile on her face and said, “Daddy, I just went to the washroom by myself”. You know, I had to smile and say, “wow, great”. But the feeling about that: your daughter is not there, like there’s three people working there that didn’t know where she went and that was horrifying.
Debbie Bird: As a single parent, I had to put my kids in daycare, and it was still not a good situation but I had to work. There were some days I didn’t know where I was going to take my kids, who I was going to leave them with—so much guilt. One day I asked my kids how they did. They said, oh, their babysitter had been sick all day so all they did was sit on the bed with her, and that’s how I left my 3 and 5 year old to spend their day.