From February 13th to 15th, the Federal Court will hear an appeal on a human rights case that challenges Canada’s racially discriminatory underfunding of children’s welfare services on First Nations reserves by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (the Caring Society) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). Timed to coincide with this hearing, the Caring Society has declared February 14th “Have a Heart Day for First Nations children”.
Allies of First Nations children, led by the students of Lady Evelyn Alternative School and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School joined by the other high school students in the local area, are organizing a rally on Parliament Hill to show Canada we care about First Nations children!
Tuesday, February 14th 10:30 am ~ 11:45 am Parliament Hill, unceded Algonquin Territory
We are calling upon peoples at all ages to join the children and youth in the rally on Feb. 14 at 10:30 am.
If the Caring Society and AFN are successful in this human rights case, it will set a precedent to addressfunding inequities in all areas on reserves, including housing, education, recreation, health care, clean water and sanitation. Canada is not arguing this case on the facts relevant to whether discrimination is occurring rather they are trying to avoid a hearing on this matter using legal loopholes.
10:30 Kitigan Zibi First Nation children and youth welcome students
10:35 Wesley Prankard of northernstarfish.org speaks about making a positive difference for First Nations children
10:40 Annie Atnikov, Lisa Howell and Cindy Blackstock announce new book “Children have Power”
10:45 Lady Evelyn Students (3-5) read letters or portions thereof
11:00 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Students (3-5 ) read letters or portions thereof
11:15 Kitigan Zibi First Nation Students (3-5) read letters of portions thereof
11:30 Children put letters into the mail box
11:35 Charlie Angus leads children singing Diamonds in the snow and children make snow angels on the way to their buses:)Together, we demand Culturally Based Equity for all peoples!!
A Public Lecture by Cindy Blackstock, the Executive Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and Exhibition of the Caring Across Boundaries Photography Exhibit:
Is This Our Canada?
How racial discrimination in children’s services undermines the potential of this generation of First Nations children and what you can do to help
with an opening ceremony by Claudette Commanda, an Algonquin Elder and introduction by Georges Sioui, the coordinator of Aboriginal Study of University of Ottawa in the beginning of the lecture
Lecture will begin at 7 pm on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2010 @ Alumni Theatre, Jock Turcot University Centre, University of Ottawa (map)
Caring Across Boundaries Photography Exhibit Photography by Liam Sharp will be open all day, from 11 am to 9 pm on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2010 @ Agora, Ground Floor of Jock Turcot University Centre, University of Ottawa (map)
** Admission is free, everyone is welcome. Donation is appreciated.
As of May of 2005, the Wen:de study found that 0.67% of non Aboriginal children were in child welfare care in three sample provinces in Canada as compared to 10.23% of status Indian children.
According to federal government figures the number of status Indian children entering child welfare care rose 71.5% nationally between 1995-2001.
Is this our Canada?
The Canadian Incidence Study on Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS) has found that First Nations children come to the attention of child welfare authorities for different reasons than non Aboriginal children. First Nations are not more likely to experience abuse than non-Aboriginal children. First Nations children are more likely to be reported for neglect which is driven by poverty, poor housing and caregiver substance misuse.
Based on an audit conducted by the Auditor General of Canada, the percentages of children in care on reserves ranged from 0 to 28% in 2007.
Is this our Canada?
Provincial child welfare laws apply both on and off reserves. The provinces fund child welfare for children off reserve but expect the federal government to fund it on reserve. If the federal government does not fund the services or funds them inadequately, the provinces typically do not top up the funding levels. This results in a two tiered child welfare system where First Nations children on reserves get less funding for child welfare than other children.
Repeated reports, including by the Auditor General of Canada (2008) and Standing Committee on Public Accounts (2009) confirm that federal government funding for child welfare services on reserves is inadequate and must be changed in order to ensure First Nations children and families on reserves receive a comparable and culturally based child welfare services.
Although the federal government has been aware of the shortfalls in its child welfare funding for over nine years, it has implemented only modest improvements in three provinces.
Overall there are more First Nations children in child welfare care in Canada than at the height of residential schools. Canada ranked 3rd on the United Nations Human Development index however; the First Nations communities in Canada ranked 72nd.
Is This Our Canada?
Please join us in this lecture to learn about the reality of child welfare services in Indigenous communities across Turtle Island (a.k.a. Canada) and ways you can make difference for the First Nations children.
Caring Across Boundaries is an exhibition about the importance of reconciliation between First Nations and the rest of Canada for the wellbeing of children and youth. Reconciliation opens the doors for all Canadians to have a new relationship with First Nations based on mutual respect and friendship.
In this exhibition, three First Nations communities share their daily experiences with a view to inviting every Canadian to make a positive difference for First Nations children and their families.
It is a collaboration between renowned photographer Liam Sharp, Aboriginal child rights advocate Cindy Blackstock and the First Nations communities of Attawapiskat, Ontario; Carrier-Sekani Family Services: a branch society of the Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council, British Columbia; and, Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick.
Liam Sharp is an internationally renowned photographer who specializes in storytelling conceptual photography. For over twenty years, Liam has worked in settings ranging from diamond vaults to impoverished neighbourhoods, museums, sky scrapers and theme parks. He was the recipient of the Silver Award of the Art Directors Club of Canada in 2009 and was nominated for a National Magazine Award. His work has been featured in Graphis, Applied Arts and PDN magazines, Report on Business, The London Times Magazine, among others publications. Go to liamsharp.com for a glance of his work.
Cindy Blackstock is one of Canada’s leading and most passionate spokespersons for the promotion and strengthening of First Nations cultures, knowledge and rights. A member of the Gitksan First Nation, and the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCS), she has worked in the field of child and family services for over 20 years.
ATTAWAPISKAT FIRST NATION is home to the Mushkego or Omushkego James Bay Cree located along the Attawapiskat River near James Bay, Ontario. The community takes great pride in its Cree culture and language and most children are fluent in Cree despite the devastating impacts of colonization. Daily life for families in the community is difficult. The school sits on a site contaminated by over 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel, sanitation systems are grossly inadequate, food costs are high, and there are severe housing shortages. The community leadership has worked hard with federal and provincial governments to deal with the problems but progress is slow.
CARRIER SEKANI NATIONS people historically have resided in a vast territory, of over 76,000 kilometers, primarily located in North Central British Columbia. Today there are approximately 10,000 individuals represented by 22 Indian Bands or First Nations, as recognized by the Department of Indian Affairs that identify as being Carrier or Sekani societies. Families are challenged by the inter-generational impacts of colonization, poverty and unresolved land claims. Carrier Sekani peoples have developed institutions such as Carrier Sekani Family Services to help community members but they need more resources to meet all of the needs. Go to www.csfs.org for more information.
TOBIQUE FIRST NATION is a Maliseet community located in a rural area along the St. John River in New Brunswick. A hydro electric dam was built on their lands but the community receives very little benefit from the dam. They pay some of the highest electric power bills in the province, have seen their traditional foods and medicines eroded due to the dam and many community members are living in poverty. Federal and Provincial government funding for essential government services such as education and child welfare fall far below what other children in the province receive. This community is working hard to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their children but they need access to the resources other communities take for granted.