Discrimination Against Indigenous Children Must End – Ontario Regional Chief

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day with Autumn at the Kam River Park in Thunder Bay
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day with Autumn at the Kam River Park in Thunder Bay

Regional Chief Day Says Follow Jordan’s Principle

THUNDER BAY – Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says that all children in Canada regardless of race should receive the health care and social services they require and the recently announced $382 million federal funding for on-reserve health care for children is just the starting point.

“It’s important that aspects of Jordan’s Principle are being implemented, as it is one of the 94 Calls to Action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was also one of the 145 recommendations that came out of the joint inquest last week into the deaths of seven indigenous students in Thunder Bay,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “But funds should also be put in place for all services, such as social, education and other investments not just health dollars. As the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal pointed out earlier this year, there exists unequal levels of health care — and all social services — that Indigenous children in Canada receive compared to non-Indigenous children.”

The Ministers of Health and Indigenous Affairs announced Tuesday that the Federal government will set aside an additional $382-million over three years to address what is known at Jordan’s Principle. The funds will be used to “put the needs of children first by supporting this approach, finding a broader definition of Jordan’s Principle and used to fix service access disputes to make sure all partners are working together.”

“The response to the tribunals ruling on child welfare is an opportunity for the federal to demonstrate a true nation to nation effort that includes First Nations in the process of the work leading into these announcements. Canada and First Nations have a champion for the children, Cindy Blackstock – we lift her up and are reminded why we must do better. It’s time for the federal government to stop fighting against those efforts and be more timely and willing to work with us to implement the tribunals rulings. Canadians must remember, the legacy of Indian Residential Schools is at the crux of our child welfare issues in Canada today, the federal government must address this meaningfully and fairly – underfunding First Nation child welfare is a national liability that must be addressed now and taken off the books.”

Jordan River Anderson was a five-year-old boy from the remote Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba who suffered from a rare muscular disorder. The doctors agreed that he could return home after spending the first two years of his life in a Winnipeg hospital. But because neither level of government would agree to cover the costs of home care, he remained in the institution and died there in 2005 at the age of 5.

In January 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found in favour of the complainants and funding models and formulas for on-reserve First Nations child welfare services discriminate against First Nations children, including the 1965 Indian Welfare Agreement in Ontario. The Tribunal also found that the way the federal government was applying Jordan’s Principle was discriminatory.

“I am disappointed that this announcement of funds was made without any consultation with the Caring Society led by Dr. Cindy Blackstock and the Assembly of First Nations who have led the charge on Jordan’s Principle and the Human Rights tribunal,” said Regional Chief Day who holds the national health portfolio for the AFN. “This goes against the federal government’s recent commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

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