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Tribunal rules Canada discriminates against First Nations children

By Jordan Merkley [1]

BELLEVILLE – The Canadian government is discriminating against First Nations children on reserves, according to a ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal [2].

The tribunal is recommending the federal government jointly develop a new system of child welfare for First Nations on reserve. They are calling for immediate action by the federal government to ensure safety, fairness and equity for First Nations children and families, according to a press release [3] from the Assembly of First Nations. [4]

The tribunal found that the federal funding formula provides First Nations child and family service agencies with fewer resources than their provincial counterparts.

The original complaint against the federal government was filed in 2007 by the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada [8] and the AFN, and hearings took place between February 2013 and October 2014.

“What it boils down to is a standard of living and equality,” said Paul Latchford, coordinator of Aboriginal services at Loyalist College. “Whether it’s levels of accommodations, lodging, food, or daycare, it’s a standard of living for these children and their families.”

Latchford said he thinks there is still a long way to go in this process, but hopes if it does get implemented it will provide a balance in society.

“A lot of people dwell on dollars, but I see it as seed money. It costs you either way, but you have to look at it long term, and the progress and the payback we will see out of it,” said Latchford.

He added that he believes this equality will benefit society as a whole.

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/selection-from-paul-success.mp3 [9]

“Today the kids win. Today the children are put first,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde following the decision on Tuesday. “This ruling is nine years in the making. That is a full generation of children waiting for justice and fairness, not to mention the decades of discrimination that has created the gap between First Nations and Canadians. First Nations are ready to work together with the federal government to develop a new system of child and family services as directed by the CHRT.”

The federal government released a statement [10] saying that it will work with Indigenous peoples and make the right changes for better outcomes for First Nations children.

Click here [11] to view the full decision of the CHRT.

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