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Discrimination Against First Nations Children in Canada

    Dr. Cindy Blackstock, a member of the Gitxan Nation, is a prominent researcher and advocate for the rights of children. As Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, Cindy has brought a landmark discrimination case to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to challenge the federal government’s chronic underfunding of children’s services on First Nations reserves and for First Nations children in the Yukon. The closing arguments in that hearing will take place October 20-24 and will be webcast live at fnwitness.ca.

    We spoke with Cindy as part of a series of conversation with Indigenous advocates and leaders to mark the 10th anniversary of Amnesty International’s report Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence against Indigenous Women 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,

    First Nations children have the right grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and be proud of their cultures

    It’s an obvious truth but it’s far from being a reality.

    As the Auditor General of Canada and many others have noted, the Federal government provides less funding per child for many services for First Nations children on reserves than the Provinces provide for children in their jurisdictions. This is despite often higher costs of delivering such services in small and remote communities, and the greater need experienced by many First Nations communities.

    The result of the denial of basic rights that most people in Canada take for granted.

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