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Discrimination Against First Nations Children in Canada

    February 06, 2018
    First Nations child holding message 'I want to grow up in my community'

    “…a broken system that is harming children and removing them from their communities.” - The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal describing the federally-funded child welfare system in First Nations communities, January 2018.

    Twelve years ago, a landmark federally-funded study concluded that persistent government underfunding was denying children and families in First Nations communities essential supports available in all other communities in Canada.

    Two years ago, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal concluded that the underfunding of services for First Nations children had directly contributed to shockingly large numbers of children being removed from their families and communities because less disruptive alternatives were not available. The Tribunal called for an immediate end to this discrimination.

    Last week, the Tribunal once again concluded that, despite much publicized increases in federal funding, the federal government has failed to end discrimination against First Nations children.

    January 26, 2017

    One year ago, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the Canadian government`s persistent underfunding of supports for First Nations families was a form of racial discrimination – and ordered immediate action.

    It was a landmark day for human rights and for the thousands of First Nations children and young people living in state care simply because First Nations children`s agencies are unable to provide the support their families need.

    But a full year later, the most basic form of discrimination identified by the Tribunal – the failure to provide enough funds to meet the actual needs of First Nations children and families – has not been addressed.

    In last year`s federal budget, the government significantly increased the funds allocated for First Nations family services. But the increase was not enough to close the gap between First Nations children and all other children in Canada.

    A year is a long time in the life of a children taken from her family and community.

    January 26, 2016
    “This is a great day for First Nations children and all Canadians who believe in justice and fairness.” Dr. Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

    In a landmark decision issued today, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that the federal government’s longstanding underfunding of child and family services on First Nations reserves and in the Yukon is a form of racial discrimination that must be stopped.

    January 20, 2016

    “Reconciliation means not having to say sorry twice,” Dr. Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

    Education. Health Care. Child protection.

    For years, persistent federal government underfunding of these basic services in First Nations reserves has put  children at risk. It has denied them the kinds of opportunities that other young people in Canada often take for granted. And it has stood in the way of First Nations communities healing from the terrible harms inflicted through the residential schools programme and other colonialist policies.

    Now, we may be on the verge of an historic breakthrough.

    Next Tuesday, January 26, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is scheduled to deliver its long-awaited decision on whether or not the federal government’s underfunding of child protections services and other family supports is a form of racial discrimination.