News / Canada

Quotes on the human rights tribunal finding on native children

OTTAWA — The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled Tuesday that the federal government discriminated against children on reserves in its funding of child welfare services. Here are some quotes on this landmark finding:

"More than just funding, there is a need to refocus the policy of the program to respect human rights principles and sound social work practice." From the decision of the tribunal.

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"Substantive equality and Canada’s international obligations require that First Nations children on-reserve be provided child and family services of comparable quality and accessibility as those provided to all Canadians off-reserve, including that they be sufficiently funded to meet the real needs of First Nations children and families and do not perpetuate historical disadvantage." From the decision.

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"The panel finds the complainants have presented sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case of discrimination under Section 5 of the (human rights act)." From the decision.

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"I want to dedicate this decision to all of the First Nations children who, for years and for decades, have been denied an equal opportunity to live the life they wish to have had and sadly, too often were judged by a Canadian public who didn't know any better, as if they got more." Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, who spearheaded the fight for the ruling.

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 "I am extremely happy with the human rights tribunal's historic ruling. This decision directly impacts the health and well-being of our First Nation's children and paves the way for future generations." Dwight Corey, national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

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"The horrific stories detailed in this case are the result of decades of under funding and neglect. Worse yet, today's decision makes clear that the department knew that their program resulted in families being broken up, but they failed to act to fix this social upheaval." Charlie Angus, NDP indigenous affairs critic.

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"Today the kids win. Today the children are put first. This ruling is nine years in the making. That is a full generation of children waiting for justice and fairness, not to mention the decades of discrimination that has created the gap between First Nations and Canadians." Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

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"The federal government has avoided the truth for many years. Over 170 cases and millions and millions of dollars have been wasted fighting First Nations and getting beat every time. This is a great victory for our kids." Patrick Madahbee, Anishinabek Nation grand council chief.

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 "All children, regardless of race, deserve access to supportive environments that can help them flourish. We know there is more work ahead, and look forward to continuing the conversation with indigenous leadership and our federal counterparts to ensure that all children grow up with access to the supports and services they need." Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

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"This is a long-standing issue that has gone on for decades, through multiple federal governments. We note the findings of the tribunal and that there are related recommendations as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that will provide guidance going forward." Cathy McLeod, Conservative critic for Indigenous Affairs.

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"First Nations children continue to suffer from generations of wilful and reckless discrimination by successive governments. I am committed to working with the government and First Nations to end this awful discrimination and move towards reconciliation." Green party Leader Elizabeth May.

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