Advocates await First Nations welfare ruling

OTTAWA - Nine emotional years after she first challenged the federal government, First Nations child welfare advocate Cindy Blackstock is awaiting a ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that will determine if Canada has discriminated against children on reserves.

See Full Article

Blackstock is the executive director of The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, which filed the complaint with the Assembly of First Nations in 2007.

It argued the federal government failed to provide First Nations children the same level of welfare services that exist elsewhere, contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act. It said this was discrimination on racial grounds.

A lot has changed during the course of this fight, Blackstock said.

"When I look back nine years and I think about what's changed in the world, to give it some context ... Obama became the first ... African-American U.S. president and Prime Minister Harper came and went," she said. "But most importantly, a whole generation grew up ... nine years is such a long time in a child's life."

It is extraordinary this case had to be filed in the first place, Blackstock said.

"Everyday I wake up and I ask myself, 'why did we have to bring the government of Canada to court to get them to treat First Nations children fairly?"'

Aboriginal child welfare was one of the central issues flagged in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which spent six years examining Canada's residential school legacy.

The report said governments, including at the federal level, need to reduce the number of aboriginal children taken into care by providing adequate resources for communities and child-welfare organizations.

It also called for child-welfare legislation that sets national standards.

The Liberal government has committed to implementing all of the suggestions from the TRC, including an overhaul of child welfare, but Blackstock said she is keen to see action and noted the legally binding tribunal decision could take this out of the government's discretion.

During the lengthy dispute, Blackstock suffered personal hardship.

In 2013, then-privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart found that two government departments had overstepped in monitoring Blackstock and her personal Facebook account.

Stoddart said the Aboriginal Affairs Department and the Justice Department violated the spirit, if not the intent, of the Privacy Act by compiling information from Blackstock's personal social media page.

Both departments agreed to stop the monitoring, destroy personal information not directly linked to federal policy and set up a new system to ensure such surveillance did not happen again.

Last spring, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that a government official "retaliated" against Blackstock and it awarded her $20,000 for pain and suffering. She donated the money to children's charities.

That dispute centred on a December 2009 meeting at the ministerial headquarters in Gatineau, Que. where Blackstock said she was the only person barred from a gathering with the chiefs of Ontario.

First Nations children and their families helped her deal with these challenges, she said.

"Every time I would feel exhausted, and there were many, every time I would feel afraid, and there were some, given the surveillance and other things, every time I would just feel sad and want to give up, I'd just think about them," Blackstock said.

"They have been my constant source of inspiration, those children and their families across this country. I just knew that I could never give up."

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is expected to publish its ruling online on Tuesday morning.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'Terrorist' in body armour crashed stolen tractor-trailer into Bunny Ranch, owner says [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    LAS VEGAS — A man wearing body armour and a mask backed a tractor-trailer through the gate of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch and crashed it into the front door of the famed Nevada brothel featured in the CatHouse reality television show, according to authorities and the brothel’s owner. Source
  • Spry woman jumps on hood of SUV to thwart carjacking

    World News Toronto Sun
    What would you do if someone tried to steal your vehicle right in front of you? For one Wisconsin resident, the answer is simple: Go all Martin Riggs and jump on its hood. Melissa Smith was the victim of an attempted carjacking while filling up at a gas station in downtown Milwaukee Tuesday afternoon. Source
  • Accused Yahoo hacker appealing detention order [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    Accused proxy hacker Karim Baratov will be seeking his freedom at Ontario’s highest court on June 5. Baratov’s lawyers Ravin Pillay and Amedeo DiCarlo filed notice at the Ontario Court of Appeal to rescind the detention order imposed by Justice Alan Whitten last month. Source
  • After Trump pushes him aside, Montenegro's PM calls it 'harmless'

    World News CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- President Donald Trump's push to get in front of the pack at a NATO summit generated indignation in the Balkans and garnered attention on social media -- but the man he shoved aside took it in stride. Source
  • Appeal Court blasts judge for failures to give reasons in sexual assault acquittal

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ontario's top court sharply rebuked a prominent judge on Thursday for repeatedly failing to explain why she had acquitted a man accused of beating and sexually assaulting a woman. In setting aside the acquittal and ordering the man face a new trial, the Appeal Court expressed dismay at the conduct displayed by Superior Court Justice Susanne Goodman. Source
  • No answers in Belize murders

    World News Toronto Sun
    Francesca Matus and her American boyfriend vanished into the night one month ago. Less than one week later their bodies were discovered in a Belize sugar cane field near Matus’s seaside villa in Corozal. An autopsy revealed Matus, 52, of Keswick and a mother of two, and Drew DeVoursney, 36, a former U.S. Source
  • Lost and found: Police department asks owner of crack cocaine to claim 'lost' drugs

    World News Toronto Sun
    WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Police in northeastern Pennsylvania say they’ve put about $1,600 worth of crack cocaine in their “lost and found box” in hopes of reuniting the drug with its rightful owner. The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens’ Voice reports the drug was found in the parking lot of a shopping centre outside Wilkes-Barre (WILKS’-ba-ree). Source
  • Former military medic gets 9 months in prison for inappropriate breast exams

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- A former military medical technician convicted of conducting inappropriate breast exams on female recruits has been sentenced to nine months in prison. Chief military judge Col. Mario Dutil told a military court in London, Ont. Source
  • Weak or non-existent El Nino to contribute to above-normal hurricane season

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Warm water temperatures and a weak or non-existent El Nino will contribute to an above-normal hurricane season this year, the Canadian Hurricane Centre said Thursday. Bob Robichaud, a meteorologist at the Halifax-based centre, said figures released by the U.S. Source
  • 'Forgive me,' Manchester bomber said to mom, brother in phone call before attack: Special Deterrent Force [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    MANCHESTER, England — British police arrested two more people and searched a new site in Manchester suspected of links to the concert bombing that left 22 people dead, as British authorities complained bitterly Thursday about investigation leaks blamed on U.S. Source