(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, BC, May 1, 2015)‐The All Chiefs Task Force on Children and Families (ACTF) met with Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (Caring Society) to discuss the implications of historic case before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal alleging that the federal government’s inequitable child and family service program discriminates against First Nations children in BC and other parts of Canada on the basis of race and national ethnic origin.
Deeply disturbing evidence filed at the Tribunal confirms that the federal government has not increased prevention funding in BC to keep First Nations children safely with their families in over 24 years resulting in many children being taken from their families unnecessarily. Hearings on the case ended in October of 2014 and the Tribunal is expected to rule in the next few months.
Chief Don Tom, Chair of ACTF stated, “The ACTF maintains that we as Indigenous Peoples have the inalienable and inherent right and responsibility to care for our communities, families and children. Evidence filed at the Tribunal shows the Federal Government has known about the inequalities in First Nations child welfare driving children into care in BC for decades and has done nothing about it. The harm to children and families is overwhelming and tragic. The Tribunal is expected to make a finding of discrimination against the federal government and order it to fix the problem. First Nations in BC must take this opportunity to ensure First Nations and First Nations child and family service agencies have the resources needed to ensure children can grow up healthy and proud in their families. Any steps or decisions must respect First Nations rights to free, prior and informed consent and include First Nations leadership and those directly involved in First Nations child welfare.”