Assembly of First Nations National Chief Continues Calls for Equity for First Nation Children

OTTAWA, Feb. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo continues calls for fair and equitable treatment of First Nation children and families on the first day of appeal hearings at the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's (CHRT) dismissal of a human rights complaint filed by AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (FNCFCS) in 2007.

"Equity for our children is a first imperative and necessary to create safety, security and to ensure our children have the opportunity to succeed," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo, who attended this morning's hearing at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. "First Nations must have access to human rights mechanisms for basic services.  We must end discrimination and support and enable success for this generation and future generations."

On March 15, 2011 the CHRT dismissed a 2007 complaint filed by AFN and FNCFCSC.  The human rights complaint is based on the discrimination caused by unequal funding for First Nation children in the child welfare system.  The Chair of the CHRT dismissed the complaint based on a questionable legal basis which suggests the federal government can provide a different and inequitable level of service to First Nation children as long as the provinces and territories provide the service to all other children.

"Just as we said when we gathered last month for the Crown-First Nations Gathering, First Nations are committed to a path of mutual respect. This means fairness, recognition and jointly designed approaches that work for our peoples," said National Chief Atleo.  "We are standing firm in protecting our rights and our children. We will be vigilant."

Today is the first day of a three day hearing for presentation of appeal.  The Federal Court will hear arguments from AFN, FNCFCS, Canadian Human Rights Commission, Chiefs of Ontario, Amnesty International and the Government of Canada.

On Parliament Hill tomorrow, about 700 students from Ottawa area, Manitoba and New Brunswick will gather for "Have a Heart Day" to raise awareness of a number of campaigns seeking to achieve equity in services for First Nation children, including "I am a Witness, Shannen's Dream and Jordan's Principle."

National Chief Atleo will be in Vancouver tomorrow participating in the annual memorial march for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women.

The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @NCAtleo, @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca

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