OTTAWA – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde calls on the federal government to act immediately on today’s Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling to ensure safety, fairness and equity for First Nations children.
“The ruling says simply and clearly that all First Nations children deserve to be treated fairly,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has echoed what the AFN has been saying since we first filed this complaint more than 10 years ago: First Nations children deserve the same services that are available to all other children. We believe all Canadians support that approach. We should not have to continually go back to the Tribunal to get the government and bureaucracy to comply.”
Today’s ruling by the Tribunal focuses on Canada’s implementation of Jordan’s Principle. Jordan’s Principle, named in memory of Jordan River Anderson, calls on all governments to ensure First Nations children can access government services on the same basis as other children.
The ruling finds that Canada is taking an overly narrow approach to honouring Jordan’s Principle. It states that Jordan’s Principle applies to all First Nations children in need of care, regardless of where they reside. The ruling sets out a number of directives and timelines for Canada to comply with Jordan’s Principle.
“We welcome the clear orders and timelines in the ruling,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We need immediate action and we will hold Canada to these commitments and continue to work to ensure safety, fairness and equity for our children.”
The ruling follows two previous non-compliance orders issued by the Tribunal in April 2016 and September 2016. The AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society jointly filed the complaint in February 2007, alleging the provision of First Nations child and family services by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs was flawed, inequitable and thus discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act.