It has been 10 years since Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, along with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) filed a joint complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission to end discrimination by funding First Nations child welfare services equitably to on reserve children.
Blackstock said "10 years is a long time in the life of a child—especially if they are experiencing discrimination across every public service because of who they are. The harms the children endured are immeasurable and preventable.”
“Today we are seeking a clear commitment from the Government of Canada to immediately end discrimination for child welfare services as unanimously agreed to in the House last November," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde.
“It may shock Canadians to know that Canada’s history of taking our children continues today. That has to stop. Right now, there are programs available through provincial agencies that our own agencies can't afford to fund for our children. That is discrimination. This funding will help to end that, while we work with Canada and the provinces to completely overhaul the system.”
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal did decide the case in January 2016 in favor of the children. The CHRT ordered the federal government to fund the required dollars and make the required changes to create equity within the system. And when the federal government did not act, the CHRT has ordered the government again. And yet, the CHRT’s orders have gone unmet.
“The kids won the case. It is time for Canada to follow the law and stop the discrimination, when the children still have a childhood,” said Blackstock.
The AFN’s and the Caring Society’s complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission was made on Feb. 23, 2007 and was based on the provision that Canada’s child welfare system was flawed, inequitable and discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
In the landmark decision, the CHRT ruled that the federal government is discriminating against First Nations children and families on reserve. The decision further stated that 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.