10th anniversary of the Human Rights Child Welfare Tribunal

Importance of this ruling for First Nations in Canada cannot be understated

By Carrier Sekani Family Services

In February of 2007, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (FNCFCS) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) filed a complaint, alleging that the Federal Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs’ (INAC) provision of First Nation Child and Family service was inequitable and discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The inequity in funding has been acknowledged by INAC through multiple reports, yet INAC has not created any meaningful or lasting change in the quality or quantity of funding services for First Nations on reserve. Today marks the 10th anniversary of the complaint being filed.

On January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal substantiated the claim that Canada had indeed racially discriminated against its own Citizens, and ordered the immediate cessation its discriminatory conduct. The ruling acknowledged that the Federal Government provision of First Nation child and family services was discriminatory due to the inequity of funding between children residing on reserve and those residing elsewhere.

The importance of this ruling for First Nations in Canada cannot be understated. It marked the first time in history that a developed Nation has faced allegations against racial discrimination against its own citizens.

Unfortunately to date, despite two orders of non-compliance by the Tribunal in April 2016 and in September 2016, Canada takes the position that it has complied with the orders. The parties and the Attorney General (on behalf of Canada) filed affidavits to support their positions in preparation for up and coming hearings to be held March 22-24, 2016. These transcripts are available in their entirety at www.fnwitness.ca

In response to the 10th anniversary of filing, and the non-compliance proceedings, Chief Executive Officer of Carrier Sekani Family Services, Warner Adam stated, “We were hopeful that the new Federal Government would bring positive change to better the lives of First Nations children and families. The remedies we had hoped for are sadly still outstanding. This sends a clear message that the government does not stand by their claims to create a new relationship with First Nations, and establish equality for First Nations citizens.”

Carrier Sekani Family Services Executive Director of Child and Family Services, Co-Chair of the Provincial Aboriginal Delegated Agencies Forum and BC Board Member of the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society, said, “This was Canada’s chance to start righting the wrongs of the past in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. Canada has been known for their strong stand on Human Rights internationally, yet ignored the human rights of its own First Nations citizens. Our hope was that the ruling would change this, however efforts to date have fallen significantly short.”