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Indigenous Peoples in Canada

    It’s a crucial moment for human rights in Canada. And you can be part of it.

    From October 20-24, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal will hear the closing arguments in a history-making case on equity for First Nations children.

    At issue is whether the federal government has discriminated against First Nations children living on reserves, and in the Yukon, by consistently providing less money per child for family services than its provincial counterparts provide in predominantly non-Aboriginal communities.

    At stake is the ability of children’s agencies to provide urgently needed prevention programs for at risk First Nations children and to stem the unprecedented numbers of First Nations children being taken from their families and communities and put into state care.

    The human rights complaint was initiated by a national non-governmental organization, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the Caring Society, recently told Amnesty International,

    Hi-Ho Mistahey! by Alanis Obomsawin, National Film Board of Canada

    Hi-Ho Mistahey, a powerful new documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Alanis Obomsawim, tells the story of Shannen's Dream, a grassroots youth movement standing up for First Nations children and their right to equitable access to schools and education.

    Until February 16, you can click on the link above to view Hi-Ho Mistahey!  online. This special streaming presentation of the documentary is in collaboration with Have a Heart Day. Have a Heart Day is a national campaign, initiated by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society to promote the rights of First Nations children.

    More information on Have a Heart Day

    In November 2016, the federal government closed the door to the proposed Northern Gateway Project, declaring that, “The Great Bear Rainforest is no place for a pipeline and the Douglas Channel is no place for oil tanker traffic.”

    The federal government's actions came after a long - and costly - legal and political battle led by First Nations whose rights had been ignored and repeatedly violated by governments seemingly set on pushing ahead with energy infrastructure development regardless of the impact on Indigenous peoples.

    The proposed project would have built two parallel pipelines to connect the Alberta oil sands to the British Columbia coast. One pipeline would carry a daily average of 525,000 barrels of oil sands bitumen, oil and industrial chemicals to a proposed facility in Kitimat, B.C. where the bitumen and oil would be loaded onto tankers for export, including to new markets in Asia. The other pipeline would carry industrial chemicals to the oil sands for the extraction and transport of bitumen.

    A report released by the RCMP earlier this year marks the first time that police in Canada have attempted, at the national level, to identify how many First Nations, Inuit or Métis women and girls have been murdered or have gone missing.

    According to the report, 1,017 women and girls identified as Indigenous were murdered between 1980 and 2012—a homicide rate roughly 4.5 times higher than that of all other women in Canada.

    In addition, the report states that as of November 2013, at least 105 Indigenous women and girls remained missing under suspicious circumstances or for undetermined reasons.

    These appalling statistics are consistent with previous estimates from sources such as Statistics Canada that have long pointed to a greatly disproportionate level of violence against that First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls. The latest numbers also underline what Indigenous women and advocacy organizations have long been saying–that this violence requires a specific and concerted response from police and all levels of society.

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