OTTAWA, June 8, 2012 /CNW/ - On June 11, 2012, the National Day of
Reconciliation and the anniversary of the Prime Minister's apology for
Residential Schools, the Indigenous Bar Association (IBA) will be
calling upon Prime Minister Harper to stop blocking efforts to bring
justice and equity to First Nation children on reserves. The Harper
Government recently filed an appeal of a Federal Court decision that
directs the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to hear a complaint that
First Nations children are being discriminated against because of
federal underfunding of child welfare services on reserve.
The First Nation Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCS) and
the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) filed a human rights complaint in
February 2007, alleging discrimination by the Department of Indian
Affairs. Currently, First Nations receive 22% less funding for child
welfare on reserve compared to funding by provincial governments off
reserve. Moreover, Canada underfunds preventive services, which FNCFCS
and AFN allege results in the removal of First Nations children from
their reserve homes. According to Cindy Blackstock, the head of FNCFCS,
there are more First Nations children in care now than at the height of
the Residential School era.
The human rights complaint has been challenged by Canada at every
step. Last year it challenged the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. In
March 2011, the Chair of the Tribunal dismissed the complaint on the
grounds that the federal government funding could not be compared to
provincial funding. That decision was overturned by the Federal Court
in April 2012, which is now being appealed by Canada.
In recognition of our collective past and in support of a better future,
people across Canada will be coming together on June 11th to participate in Our Dreams Matter Too, a national walk and letter writing campaign organized by the FNCFCS
where Canadians will call on the Harper Government to give Aboriginal
children the same chance to grow up safely at home, get a good
education, be healthy, and proud of their cultures. The Indigenous Bar
Association (IBA) encourages all Canadians to walk and write in support
of the dreams of Aboriginal children and the dreams for Canada's
According to IBA President, Koren Lightning-Earle, "The Harper
government continues to fail Aboriginal children in Canada in spite of
its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other human
"The statistics about Aboriginal children in Canada are dire," said
Koren Lightning-Earle, "When it comes to Aboriginal children, Canada's
words and its actions don't match up."
Canada recently presented to the UN that it was committed to promoting
reconciliation noting that, "the process of reconciliation includes a commitment to continually
improving the relationship with Aboriginal [P]eoples based on the
knowledge of our shared past, mutual respect, and a desire to move
forward together in partnership".
"Canada talks about reconciliation yet it continues to commit
significant resources to create roadblocks in a desperate attempt to
have this human rights complaint go away. A public airing of the
quality of life for First Nation(s) children through a human rights
complaint will shed light on the inequalities of services being
provided for all to see. Yet the Government persists in its fight to
ensure the evidence about discrimination against First Nations children
does not get heard," said Lightning-Earle.
The Indigenous Bar Association is a non-profit professional association
of First Nation, Métis and Inuit lawyers, judges, legal academics and
law students in Canada.
SOURCE Indigenous Bar Association in Canada
For further information:
Koren Lightning-Earle, President of the Indigenous Bar Association at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at 780.721.2345 or visit our website at www.indigenousbar.ca.