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Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario Applauds Historic Human Rights Tribunal Ruling
by pmnationtalk onJanuary 28, 2016427 Views
Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario Applauds
Historic Human Rights Tribunal Ruling
January 27, 2016, TORONTO, ON The Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario (ANCFSAO) and its members welcome and applaud the historic ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT).
The CHRT decision, issued on January 26, 2016, found the Government of Canada discriminated against tens of thousands of First Nations children living on-reserve by failing to provide the same level of child welfare services that exist elsewhere. They also found that the government supported a culture whereby social workers were incentivized to apprehended First Nations children.
The case was brought to the CHRT by the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society in 2007 after the federal government failed to take action on two joint reports which showed that First Nations children were being taken in to care due to inequities and underfunding of the First Nations and Family Services program, administered by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Rather than addressing the inequities and discrimination, as detailed in the government’s own internal documents, the federal government spent nine years and $5.3 million on legal fees fighting the case in court.
Mr. Micheal Miller, ANCFSAO President said he was thrilled with the decision and welcomed the opportunity to work to with federal, provincial and First Nation leaders to address the disparities that exist in Ontario. “This is a historic day for First Nations children and families everywhere. This ruling states that no longer can the government discriminate against First Nations peoples by way of funding, policy or any other lever at their disposal. We stand in unity with our First Nation leaders, families and children, and we fully support their calls to reform the 1965 Indian Welfare Agreement (Ontario).”
In Ontario Aboriginal children account for just four per cent of the child population yet approximately 20 per cent of all children in care. Of the number of Aboriginal children in care between 50 and 70 per cent are in the care of non-Aboriginal Children’s Aid Societies, often placed with non-Aboriginal families sometime hundreds of kilometers away from their community, with little-to-no-access to culture and/or cultural supports.
One of the expert witnesses who provided testimony during the hearings from the Ontario perspective was Ms. Theresa Stevens, Executive Director of Anishnaabe Abinoojii Family Services, a mandated agency that provides child welfare and prevention services to 14 First Nation communities in the Treaty 3 area. In responding to the CHRT ruling, Ms. Stevens stated “I am overwhelmed by this decision and the fact the Tribunal recognized the pain and suffering caused by the Sixties Scoop and the impact it has had on First Nations children, families and communities in Ontario. This decision has given a voice to the children and those who have been adversely impacted by the system.”
Mr. Steven Vanloffeld, ANCFSAO Executive Director commended the courage and leadership of the Assembly of First Nations and Dr. Cindy Blackstock for their tireless efforts on this case. “Our people have known for decades that chronic underfunding has contributed to poorer outcomes on every measure of wellbeing, leading to the gross overrepresentation of First Nations and Aboriginal children in care. The leadership exhibited by the Assembly of First Nations and Dr. Cindy Blackstock, in spite of the measures taken to discredit and silence them, means that today, with collective action and political will, we can truly begin to move forward in the spirit of reconciliation to address these wrongs and the effects from which our children have had to bear.”
Incorporated in 1994, the ANCFSAO is mandated to build a better life for all Aboriginal children through promoting the delivery of culturally-based native child and family services to Aboriginal peoples in Ontario. The ANCFSAO acts as a resource in assisting its member agencies toward the provision of quality native child welfare and related services through education and training, policy development and analyses, and research and advocacy.
For more information:
Mr. Michael Miller
ANCFSAO Board President
Executive Director, Kunuwanimano Child and Family Services
Telephone: (705) 268-9033
Mr. Steven Vanloffeld
Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario
Telephone: (647) 258-8305