This week, a continuation of a historical case that could impact the future of First Nation’s children in care is set to continue at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal office in Canada’s Capital, Ottawa.
Dating back to 2007, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (FNCFCS) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) filed a human rights complaint against the Federal government for the lack of adequate and culturally appropriate social services and funding for First Nation’s children on-reserve. After several years of procedural delays, the human rights tribunal began hearing from witnesses in February 2013.
If the Canadian Federal government is found in the wrong for lack of funding and adequate services, many believe that not only will this be beneficial for First Nations children in care today but it will also set a precedent for how many other Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) children and youth services and funding are delivered. As many first, second and third generations of residential school survivors heal from the pain and trauma experienced at residential schools, Aboriginal people in Canada face the harsh truth that today there are more Aboriginal children in care, without family and cultural support services, then at the peak of the residential school era.
The most significant statement that will be made, if the government is found in the wrong, is that the government did discriminate against First Nations children based on race and ethnic origin therefore explaining the amount of money spent, effort and undermining attacks made to prevent this case from even beginning.
To date, the Federal government has spent over 3 million dollars on lawyers and legal fees. Cindy Blackstock, CEO and founder of FNCFCS, has been spied on throughout the proceedings which was confirmed by the Privacy Commissioner in 2011. The most significant statement that will be made, if the government is found in the wrong, is that the government did discriminate against First Nations children based on race and ethnic origin therefore explaining the amount of money spent, effort and undermining attacks made to prevent this case from even beginning. This statement could have a domino effect with all Aboriginal relations with the Federal government from health services, social services to economic dealings.
The hearings are set to continue Wednesday, January 8 at 9:30 AM EST, with testimony from Dr. Bombay, who will make the links between residential schools and the high rate of First Nations children in care. The hearings are open for public viewing as well being aired on APTN, the public is encouraged to observe to make an informed decision of their own.
07.01.13 9:14 PM Update: One of the witnesses may have travel delays causing the hearing to have a delayed start time.
Watch past hearings on APTN’s #KidsInCare here
See the full hearing schedule here
Photo by Pawel Dwulit for the Toronto Star