Assembly of First Nations Manitoba Regional Chief welcomes Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision on child welfare

OTTAWA, Jan. 26, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Regional Chief for Manitoba Kevin Hart welcomes today's decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) regarding First Nations child welfare. 

"As the Regional Chief responsible for child welfare for the AFN, I welcome this decision to jointly develop a new system of child welfare in this country," said AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart.  "This is a major step forward for First Nations children and families on reserve.  We cannot and should not have to fight for fairness for our kids, and today's decision underscores that fact.  Today the kids win.  I look forward to working together with AFN National Chief Bellegarde, the entire AFN Executive, Cindy Blackstock and the federal government to ensure we get this right for our children and families."

The AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society together filed a complaint to the CHRT in February 2007 alleging the provision of First Nations child and family services by the Government of Canada was discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act.  The joint complaint states that the Government of Canada has a longstanding pattern of providing inequitable funding for child welfare services for First Nations children on reserves compared to non-Aboriginal children. 

Today the CHRT released its decision finding that the federal government has discriminated against First Nations children and families on reserve by providing flawed and inequitable child welfare services for decades. The decision further states that the Government of Canada has failed to fully implement Jordan's Principle, which is meant to ensure equitable access to government services available to other children in Canada.  The decision also requires the federal government to work with the parties to identify a process for remedy, which includes returning to the CHRT in coming weeks for an order on remedies. 

"Today's decision by the CHRT is nine years in the making and its significance cannot be over-stated," said Regional Chief Chart.  "On behalf of AFN, I thank and acknowledge our witnesses in the case Elder Robert Joseph, Dr. Amy Bombay and Dr. John Milloy for presenting evidence on historic disadvantage resulting from Indian Residential Schools.  We also lift up our partner in this work, Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, for her long-standing commitment and dedication to achieving equity for our kids. This is about our children, our families and our future, and we will be relentless in our efforts to ensure they have every opportunity to justice, fairness and success."
The AFN is seeking immediate funding relief for First Nations children and families based on real needs and reflective of regional diversity and the establishment of an oversight mechanism to ensure equity and fairness are achieved, and maintained.  The AFN will be meeting with the federal government in coming weeks before reporting back to the CHRT for an order on remedy.

 

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: Kayla Frank, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, 204-296-3601, kfrank@manitobachiefs.com


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