CALGARY — A leading advocate for First Nations children and families says she would like to see a lot less talk and a lot more action from the federal government.
Cindy Blackstock’s First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada was one of two groups that brought a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which ruled in January the existing system discriminates against First Nations children in the delivery of child welfare services.
“I measure change at the level of children, not in what politicians say,” Blackstock said after a speech Wednesday to the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect in Calgary.
“You know this discrimination has gone through both political parties since Confederation and Canadians need to keep their eyes on the ground. Are things getting better for kids?
“If they’re not, keep pressing because these kids are worth the money.”
Blackstock told the conference the Canadian government has known how to help First Nations children for more than a century but never had the will to do anything about it.
Promises from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mean nothing until something is actually done, she said.
“It hasn’t been substantial and I think that’s where we really need to watch it. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, in fact, felt Canada’s progress was so slow that it issued a compliance order against the federal government for failing to implement the January order,” Blackstock said.
“That was done in April and we’re waiting for another one to come down within the next couple of days.”
In the government’s submission to tribunal earlier this year, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada said it had begun working with First Nations child welfare agencies to reform the system and eliminate any discrimination in levels of service.
It has committed $382 million over the next three years for what’s known as Jordan’s Principle, a policy designed to ensure First Nations children do not get caught up in bureaucratic spending disputes between governments.
It also promised to ensure that all children living on reserves with a disability or a short-term condition get quick access to any help they require regardless of bureaucracy.
But Blackstock remained worried that the new government will be the same as the old when it comes to taking care of children.
“It appears in a headline for a couple of days and then it gets replaced,” said Blackstock.
“I think we really need to think about what is the most important Canadian story.
“What is more important (than) that Canadians keep their eye on than the racial discrimination by the federal government toward 163,000 little kids?”
Cindy Blackstock’s First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of
Canada was one of two groups that brought a complaint to the Canadian
Human Rights Tribunal which ruled in January the existing system
discriminates against First Nations children in the delivery of child
I have only read some of the U.S reports on child welfare and am not sure if my thoughts therefore are applicable to Canadian First nations here, but just in case there is some overlap, I have some thoughts which may or may not be relevant to you right now.
It seems forever like this and apart from these kids as somehow deemed ‘secondary’ as a priority there is the other issue which seems confusing. How is it that so many kids are fostered out instead of being looked after properly on the reservations? I do know that many Canadian reservations are living in the worst kind of poverty imaginable and therefore these factors may contribute to ‘legitimating’ kids from many different nations being taken away. It seriously smacks of a sophisticated and up to the minute legal right to ‘farm the kids’ off of reserves and into mainstream society. After all, if they are taken from their homes, albeit legally on the grounds of everything degradable poverty does to familes, this also provides a weakening of families historical love and bond to their homes, their valuable lands and the resources Canada and North America covet so much. I apologise for such ugly thoughts however the possible strategies for ‘legally’ gaining access to land is to weaken how the land is kept through title deeds in families and the strength of extended families bond to keeping and maintaining that land through thick and thin.
Other communities, Canadian communities have access to health care and medical treatment, special diets and apparatus which is economically sustainable so they do not need to have their kids fostered out!!! However, on reservations it is allowed or even encouraged and poverty and its consequences are the key. Not many Canadians live on the reserves. Reserves are often hidden from town centers and the like. IN this way, it seems that the ‘authorities’ can get away with cutting back help on reservations that they cannot cut back say in Ottowa, Toronto, etc (I am only guessing here -trying to work it out).
The crime for poor families then is inescapable poverty and its consequences which then enables fostering instead of helping families like the government does other non native families. These kids are fostered out to non relatives and taken away from whole extended families and school friends because the kids need ‘help’. I don’t like the fact that ‘fosterers’ earn a lot of money to help maintain a child. Surely this defeats the object being that if the money and help was put in the reserve child welfare infrastructure these kids would not need to be fostered out . . . .only to be made money out of?!These kids are not cattle or products to be used for financial gain by other families to bring up their income. Help needs to be given first on the reserves. Surely this would be cheaper than fostering them out as well as keeping the families together? Any abusive things happening in a kids life should be extracted, not the kids! In a nut shell the government can be using poverty as a tool to break up families in order to weaken the love and owenership of the land by taking the kids away from home and the knowledge of its importance. This factor needs to be bought up with human rights in order to gain the motive of removal as opposed to replenishing medical care and welfare, start up businesses for families etc in these communities.
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