AMC Responds to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunial Ruling on Child Welfare on Reserve
January 26, 2016
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs welcomes the decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal finding that Canada discriminated against First Nations children in care. The Panel also reserved the right to seek clarification from the parties on how best to remedy the discrimination.
WireService.ca Media Release (01/26/2016) Treaty One Territory – “This decision acknowledges and legitimizes what our First Nations leaders and people have known for decades: that our children’s rights are violated, and our children are not offered the same treatment as the rest of Canada. AMC supports the order for Canada cease its discriminatory practices. As well, since Jordan’s Principle began in Manitoba, AMC fully supports the expansion of the definition and implementation of Jordan’s Principle,” stated Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.
Manitoba has the highest number of First Nation children-in-care compared to the rest of Canada. It also has the highest child apprehension rate in the world.
Grand Chief Nepinak continued: “the current state of Child Welfare in Canada meets the test of genocide as defined by the United Nations definition with respect to our children. In Manitoba, the AMC has been advocating for transformation of the broken Child Welfare system and changes to the policy and legislation. The current policies and legislation works against First Nations that continues to apprehend and institutionalize our children. Through the AMC’s Bringing Our Children Home Report we have come to understand that we need to develop a culturally appropriate model that incorporates our traditional parenting ways, with adequate funding and resources that promotes and protects our cultural identity,”
In June 2014, the AMC Chiefs-in-Assembly unanimously adopted Bringing Our Children Home report and recommendations that call for a completely new system based on the First Nations principles of love, compassion, respect, and dignity. A Leadership Declaration was also signed to fully commit to take decisive action to assert autonomy and absolute responsibility for their children’s safety, health and wellbeing. This lead to the development of the First Nations Family Advocate Office (Abinoojiyak Bigiiweway) that has so far Canada and the province of Manitoba have refused to fund.
“Every day through the Abinoojiyak Bigiiweway, we continue to hear the pain of parents fighting to get their children back. The current system does not support keeping families and children together instead it keeps them apart. We believe the Panel should consider Abinoojiyak Bigiiweway as an immediate and long-term reform that can be implemented practically, meaningfully and effectively in Manitoba” stated Cora Morgan, First Nations Family Advocate.
“This decision is a positive step toward reconciliation and a new relationship with Canada. I am hopeful this will begin a meaningful transition for the funding and service delivery of First Nation child welfare programs comparable to the rest of Canada. We fully support the Tribunal’s ruling that considers compensation for victim discrimination, and hope the process that will be developed to address this adequately reflects the over representation of First Nation children in care in Manitoba. We also acknowledge the perseverance and tireless dedication of Cindy Blackstock with the support of the AFN for bringing this issue to light within 9 years,” concluded Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.
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