Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
Hearing on the First Nations Child Welfare Case
Hearings last from 9:30 am-4:00 pm
(end time at the discretion of the Tribunal)
at: 160 Elgin Street, 11th Floor, Ottawa, ON
DESCRIPTION OF EVENTS:
February 25-March 1 is the first of eight sets of hearings at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on First Nations Child Welfare. On February 25 there will be an opening prayer followed by opening statements by representatives from the AFN, the FNCFCS, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Chiefs of Ontario, Amnesty International and the Attorney General of Canada. Throughout the rest of the week, Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the FNCFCS and Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, will give a testimony and be cross-examined.
The Tribunal hearings are open to the public and APTN will provide daily updates on their National News program. Because the hearing room can only seat 100 people at a time, the FNCFCS encourages you to fill out a form at
http://doodle.com/8bspu49nnnkccwq6 if you wish to attend with a large group. A ‘children’s room’ is available for teachers and students to eat lunch/snacks and store their belongings.
WHY DOES THIS HEARING STAND OUT?
The percentage of status Indian children in child welfare care (10.23%) far surpassed that of non Aboriginal children (0.67%) in three sample Canadian provinces in 2005. First Nations children in child welfare care are not only now greater in number than at the peak of residential schools but are entering that care at increasing rates.
Currently, the child welfare system is a two-tiered one in which First Nations children on reserves get less funding for child welfare than other children. Although the Auditor General of Canada (2008) and Standing Committee on Public Accounts (2009) have repeatedly confirmed this, the government has only instituted modest improvements in three provinces over the past nine years or more that it has been aware that funding for child welfare services on reserves is inadequate.
The government of Canada is now being “held to account for its current treatment of First Nations children before a body with the power to make enforceable orders” for the first time, despite having spent three million dollars in attempts to prevent this case from being heard. The government of Canada has also denied responsibility for the inequitable delivery of child welfare services to First Nations based on its role as funder and claims that child welfare services for First Nations should not be compared to those for non-First Nations (http://www.fncaringsociety.com/sites/default/files/Tribunal%20Briefing%20Note%20-%20Oct%202012_0.pdf).
On the “I am a Witness” web site
(http://www.fncaringsociety.com/i-am-witness) you will find a comprehensive timeline with the legal submissions by all parties in the case along with relevant reports from credible independent sources such as the Auditor General of Canada.
WHY SHOULD YOU ATTEND?
All are invited to attend the hearings in order to decide for themselves if First Nations children are being treated fairly.
It is a time for all Canadians to hear the evidence of both sides and to make an informed decision about the kind of Canada they want to see for all children now and into the future.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IN ADDITION TO ATTENDING THE HEARINGS?
1. Sign up to be a witness! People of all ages and organizations can sign up - it is free and takes under two minutes!
2. Encourage people and organizations in your circle to sign up to be a witness.
3. Write to Member of Parliament* and to Prime Minister Harper
* MP emails:
4. Hold a brown bag lunch at your workplace, school or neighbourhood to raise awareness about the tribunal.
5. Make a donation to support the ongoing work for equitable services for First Nations children.
6. Buy an 'I am a witness' button and spread the word.
THE OTHER SEVEN SETS OF DATES FOR THE HEARINGS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1. April 1 to April 12
2. May 13 to May 24
3. June 3 to June 14
4. June 24 to July 5
5. July 15 to July 26
6. August 5 to August 16
7. August 26 to August 30
FOR MORE DETAILS ON THE HEARING: