Budget fails to respond to human rights discrimination against First Nations children

    OTTAWA, March 21 /CNW Telbec/ - In a budget replete with spending for
"All Canadians", First Nation children have been ignored. "Monday's federal
budget will ensure ongoing violation of the human rights of First Nations
children and families," says Vice Chief Guy Lonechild of the Federation of
Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN). "On February 23, 2007, the FSIN stood in
support of the AFN and the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society of
Canada (FNCFCS), in filing a joint Canadian Human Rights complaint on the
discriminatory treatment of First Nation child welfare agencies. It was our
hope that this government would act appropriately and support the Human Rights
of ALL children in Canada. Obviously, our hopes were not realized," concluded
Vice Chief Guy Lonechild.
    "There are 9,000 First Nations children in care today on reserve, 27,000
in total when you include those in provincial agencies. This is much more than
were in residential schools at the height of their operations," said National
Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations. "This unacceptable
situation and the way to resolve it are well known to the federal government.
A comprehensive study on the issue, funded by the federal government, showed
that the root cause of the higher rate of First Nations children in care is
neglect caused by poverty as well as contributing factors such as poor housing
conditions and addictions. These cases demand resources and investment.
    "It is inexplicable that a country as rich as Canada, and a government
that claims to hold in high regard the importance of safety and family,
willfully neglects the poorest segment of our society," said National Chief
    "In its last review of Canada's report, the United Nations Committee on
the Rights of the Child noted that there was no reason Canada could not fully
protect the rights of ALL children in Canada," added Cindy Blackstock,
Executive Director of the FNCFCS. "In fact, Indian and Northern Affairs'
website admits that: 'A fundamental change in the funding approach of First
Nation Child Welfare agencies for child welfare is required in order to
reverse the growth rate of children coming into care, and in order for the
agencies to meet their mandated responsibilities'. We could not agree more and
that is why we are so disappointed that the federal government did not
immediately rectify this profound inequality by fully implementing the
solutions contained in the Wen:de series of reports."

    The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor, Office of
the National Chief, Assembly of First Nations, (613) 241-6789, ext. 243,
Cell.: (613) 298-6382, npine@afn.ca; Tracy Lavallee, Federation of
Saskatchewan Indian Nations, (306) 956-6939, Tracy.lavallee@fsin.com; Cindy
Blackstock, First Nation Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, (613)
230-5885, Cblackst@fncfcs.ca

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