VICTORIA – New Democrat spokesperson for aboriginal relations and reconciliation, Scott Fraser, and New Democrat children and families spokesperson, Doug Donaldson, welcomed this week’s decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that the federal government discriminates against First Nation children on reserves by failing to provide the same level of child welfare services that exist elsewhere.
“This is a big victory and an extremely important precedent, that First Nations’ children on reserve are systemically treated as lesser citizens than other Canadian children,” said Donaldson. “Families are facing staggering unemployment and issues related to poverty and trauma from residential schools and there are many communities where there are gaps in child welfare prevention and protection services. For these families to finally have recognition that there has been government discrimination against them is a very big step.”
The original complaint was filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2007 by Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations and Family Caring Society, along with the Assembly of First Nations. The complaint argued that the funds the federal government gives for child welfare on reserves is much less than the funds given to children off reserves. They also argued that this discrepancy leads to more children ending up in the child welfare system.
In a result published on Tuesday, The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal agreed with the complainant. The decision stated that the federal government’s funding and management of child welfare services “resulted in denials of services and created various adverse impacts for many First Nations children and families living on reserves.
Fraser said, “The decision says the government must ‘cease the discriminatory practice and take measures to redress and prevent it’ and also ordered ‘Jordan’s Principle’ be fully and immediately implemented so that First Nation children get the care they need before Ottawa and the provinces settle who should pay. I look forward to working with my federal counterparts, the province and First Nation governments to make a better future for First Nation children across British Columbia.”