Xavier Moushoom lost count of all the families from his 10 years in foster care.
He was first taken from his Lac Simon First Nation home at eight years old. After that, he figures he bounced around between 14 and 20 families.
One thing he’s sure of: none were Algonquin.
“I lost my language outright, lost my culture, who I am,” he said, while fighting back tears at the Quebec inquiry into Indigenous relations on Wednesday.
Moushoom’s emotional testimony made it clear that he’s not the only one.
Nearly half of his First Nation of Lac Simon is under 12 years old. That’s almost 800 children – and Moushoom says many have been or are in the child welfare system.
“Today, the youth of Lac Simon they’re on the way to gradually losing [their culture],” he testified in French during the inquiry’s stop in Val-d’Or. “It’s a pity because we have a beautiful culture.”
But Moushoom’s story is not all doom and gloom.
He has since relearned how to speak Anishinaabe and applied to become a foster family for children of his community.
Moushoom hopes that his testimony encourages change in the child welfare system – and that he can serve as an example for those who’ve already lived through it.