November 2, 2017
(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde addressed supporters gathered today on Parliament Hill for the National Day of Action on First Nations Child Welfare, calling for immediate action to honour the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ruling on First Nations child welfare and Jordan’s Principle.
“The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s rulings are simple and clear – First Nations children deserve to be treated fairly,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Our children deserve the same care and services that are available to other children in this country. Last November, Parliament voted unanimously to provide an immediate injection of $155 million for First Nations child and family services and to immediately implement Jordan’s Principle. Those resources represent a down payment on fairness, justice and an opportunity for a brighter future for our children. They should not have to wait any longer.”
In February 2007, the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society jointly filed a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal stating the provision of First Nations child and family services by the Government of Canada was flawed, inequitable and discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart said: “Canada’s own Human Rights Tribunal found our children are treated unfairly. Knowing that, how can any of us in good conscience allow this to continue? For First Nations, this is part of a long and sad story that goes from the Indian residential schools system to the 60s scoop to today’s child welfare system. Our message today is simple: stop taking our children from us, honour the Tribunal ruling, and work with us to give our children hope and opportunity.”
In January 2016, the CHRT ruled the federal government had been discriminating against First Nations children and families on reserve by providing flawed and inequitable child welfare services for decades. The decision also stated that Canada failed to fully implement Jordan’s Principle, which ensures equitable access to government services for all children in Canada. Since then, the CHRT has issued three compliance orders against the federal government.
The impacts of under-funding on children and families are many, including the staggering statistics that there are more First Nations children in care today than at the height of the residential schools system. Recent census figures show that the First Nations population increased by almost 40 per cent in the last ten years, while more than half the children in foster care (52.2 per cent) 14 years and younger are Indigenous.
The AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly called for the National Day of Action at the AFN 2017 Annual General Assembly held during July 2017 in Regina, SK.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For more information, please contact:
Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 382