Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo will make an opening statement at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Monday, further advocating and supporting the need for equity and fairness for First Nation children, as the Tribunal begins its hearings on First Nation child welfare.
"There are more First Nation children in care today than during the height of residential schools. This is completely unacceptable. The voices of our young people are gaining strength in the demand for fundamental and transformative change for all First Nations in ways that will unlock potential and support success," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.
"I look forward to a fair and independent process and more importantly getting to the work of implementing remedies to secure equity, fairness and the supports our children deserve," said Atleo.
"Equity for First Nation children and families is essential and necessary to create safety, security and to ensure our children have the opportunity to succeed. All Canadians should be deeply concerned to learn that services for these First Nation children and their families on-reserve fall short of those provided to other Canadian children," said National Chief Atleo. "Short changing our kids and families has a direct impact on every aspect of our communities' broader socio-economic realties and opportunities. First Nations stand firm in protecting our rights and our children. We will be vigilant, and we will not let them down. All Canadians can and should play a role in achieving remedies that ensure families and children have every opportunity to succeed. Success demands that Governments work respectively and transparently with First Nations guided by the principles of fairness, respect for rights and honouring responsibilities.
"This case was filed as a last resort after successive governments have failed to implement the solutions that would help First Nations children stay safely in their families," says FNCFCS Executive Director Dr. Cindy Blackstock. "The Government of Canada needs to do what caring adults do as a matter of course - put children first and end the inequities. We cannot, as a people or a country, afford to discriminate against children as a matter of public policy"
On February 27, 2007 AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada launched a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The complaint alleges that the Government of Canada had a longstanding pattern of providing less government funding for child welfare services to First Nations children on reserves than is provided to non-Aboriginal children resulting in inequitable services.