Just Ask Us: A Conversation with First Nations Teenage Moms
Teen moms are nothing new. For as long as anyone can remember, families, communities, and governments have been grappling with the poverty and lack of life opportunities faced by these parents and their children. For First Nations in particular, the issue has become critical. Aboriginal girls are four and a half times more likely to be teen moms than girls from the general population, and more than half of all First Nations families are now started by teen parents. Yet little has been written on the topic for a mainstream audience. In 2003, Sylvia Olsen began a community study with aboriginal teen parents, believing that the best way to shed light on the issue is to listen first to the parents themselves.
Just Ask Us is a result of this project, in which thirteen Tsartlip teen moms participated. Just Ask Us takes a comprehensive, first-hand look at First Nations teen mothers, offering ways to counteract the intractable cycle of poverty and turn reserve communities into places of hope for the next generation. Olsen explores issues of teenage sexuality and relationships, birth control, abortion, and violence. She examines aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultural attitudes and practices and how they affect the lives of young moms and their children. Her book weaves the threads of these young mothers' lives together with colours of desperation, enthusiasm, impossibility, and hope.
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