OTTAWA, Oct. 20, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Ghislain Picard and First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (Caring Society) Executive Director Dr. Cindy Blackstock spoke today about the urgent need for fairness for First Nations children as the final week of hearings begins into the AFN-Caring Society joint human rights complaint at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal against the federal government for discrimination against First Nations children and First Nations child and family services.
"We took the extraordinary step of filing a human rights complaint against the Canadian government because it refused to act to address the under-funding of First Nations child and family services on-reserve, a situation that places far too many of our children at risk," said AFN National Chief Picard. "The federal government is aware of this situation. Their own witnesses, reports and studies as well as independent experts substantiate this unfair situation. That the government would allow this to continue in the face of overwhelming evidence is shameful, unconscionable and, frankly, inexplicable. We encourage all Canadians to stand with us this week. This is about fairness for the most vulnerable members of our society: the children."
The AFN and the Caring Society jointly launched a Canadian Human Rights complaint against the Government of Canada on February 27, 2007 on the discriminatory provision of child and family services on-reserve. The joint complaint states that the Government of Canada has a longstanding pattern of providing unequal funding for child welfare services for First Nations children on reserves compared to non-Aboriginal children, resulting in inequitable services. The impacts are many, including the staggering statistic that there are more First Nations children in care today than at the height of the residential schools system.
Caring Society Executive Director Blackstock stated: "As a social worker, I see the impacts on First Nations children of the federal government's damaging, dangerous, discriminatory approach. This is not an abstract policy issue. This is about children being placed in vulnerable, unsafe and harmful situations that can hurt them, their families and all Canadians. It is not clear why any government would knowingly allow this to continue. They should be fighting for fairness for First Nations children instead of fighting against it. We will not and cannot allow this situation to continue. We are standing up for the children and we are encouraged that Canadians are standing with us. It is sadly no wonder why in 2013 the prestigious KidsRights Foundation ranked Canada's efforts for children as 60th in the world despite having the 11th largest economy."
The CHRT final arguments will be heard from October 20–24, 2014, with a ruling expected in 2015. More information on the case and the schedule for the Tribunal hearings can be found at: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/canadian-human-rights-tribunal
Those who support justice and fairness for First Nations children are encouraged to watch the free webcast (information at the link above) and to state their support publicly, join the discussion on social media and use the Twitter hashtag #Witness4FirstNationsKids
The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada is a national non-profit organization providing research, policy, professional development for First Nations children, youth, families and organizations.
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations
For further information: Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or [email protected]; Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or [email protected]