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,
“In my view, there is no more important legal case in the country right now.… If the federal government is indeed discriminating against First Nations children in foster care, that should be at the top of everyone’s policy agenda, moral agenda, and political agenda because it’s totally out of step with the values that the country stands for.”
The closing arguments will be webcast on the Caring Society’s website at www.fnwitness.ca where the hearing can be watched live, or viewed later. The website also has all the written arguments, including the government’s arguments in its own defence, as well as Amnesty International’s own submission on the issues.
The Caring Society is encouraging concerned Canadians to make a public commitment to become more informed about the issue and to following the case as it wraps up. You can do this by signing up online as part of the Caring Society’s ever growing list of witnesses, tweeting the hashtag #Witness4FirstNationsKids and by taking a picture of yourself with a message of solidarity, like Cindy’s photo on this page.
The case will have important implications for the federal government’s relationship with First Nations, since similar patterns of underfunding exist across a wide range of basic services such as education and clean drinking water on reserve.
Amnesty campaign page on discrimination against First Nations children