Ottawa, ON - Nov. 23, 2016 - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde has filed a motion with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) to once again push Canada to take action to address the Tribunal’s January 2016 ruling that Canada is discriminating against First Nations children in its provision of First Nations child and family services. The motion calls for the Tribunal to issue another compliance order to the government and sets the stage for further orders and other actions should the government continue to ignore the Tribunal’s ruling.
“The Trudeau Government has repeatedly said that the most important relationship for Canada to rebuild is the one with Indigenous peoples. It’s time to move beyond words, end this impasse and implement the Tribunal’s decision and provide fairness and justice for First Nations children,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “We will not wait idly while another generation is subjected to discriminatory funding. Our children cannot wait. We need immediate remedies and a long-term approach to ensure our children are safe and raised in healthy, caring environments.”
A number of parties and intervenors in the original human rights complaint filed motions on November 22, 2016 with the Tribunal, covering all aspects of the complaint in order to get action from Canada. The parties include the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, Chiefs of Ontario and Nishnawbe Aski Nation. The AFN’s motion specifically focuses on the need for a process to address mid-term and long-term relief to support and reform First Nations child and family services. Other motions filed today address the need for action in other areas, including immediate relief.
The filing today comes in the wake of the unanimous passing of a motion in the House of Commons on November 1 calling for, among other things, immediate investments of $155 million in new funding. This would help to address the shortfall in federal funding for the delivery of child welfare, and implementing the full definition of Jordan’s Principle, which calls for equitable access to government services available to other children in Canada.
“We recognize that it will take a lot of effort and collaboration to reform the child welfare system in Canada. We don’t want to dismiss what is necessary to address medium to long term needs to protect First Nations children and to ensure the system is reflective of our goals of restoring First Nations jurisdiction and responsibility for our own children. But the resources that we are talking about are needed now in our family services agencies,” added National Chief Bellegarde.
The CHRT released its original decision on January 26 of this year, finding that the federal government is discriminating against First Nations children and families on reserve by providing flawed and inequitable child welfare services for decades. The decision further stated that the Government of Canada has failed to fully implement Jordan’s Principle,
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.