FNCFCS brings First Nations child welfare case to the federal court of Canada

Together with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), and the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCS), a UFCW Canada National Partner, has brought an historic child welfare case to the Federal Court of Canada. The hearings took place from February 13to 15. They are seeking a judicial review of the decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in dismissing their human rights complaint in the case.

Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of FNCFCS, submits that the Tribunal Chair Shirish Chotalia erred in her 2011 decision to dismiss the case on a preliminary motion without hearing the merits of the case. She argues that social, economic and historical disadvantages facing
on-reserve First Nations children and communities must be considered when discussing substantive equality. Blackstock also contends that the Tribunal’s decision goes against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it makes Aboriginal Peoples the only group that cannot file complaints against the federal government for alleged discrimination of services.

 “We stand with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada on this historic human rights legal battle,” says Wayne Hanley, UFCW Canada National President. “Our most precious gift is our children, and all children have a right to education without compromises. It is unacceptable that in 2011, and with the immense wealth held by a very few in this country, that the basic right to education is not extended equally to Aboriginal children. The indifference shown by Stephen Harper and the Tories in Ottawa towards aboriginal communities continues to be a mammoth embarrassment to Canada."

"It is unacceptable for the Tribunal Chair not to allow testimony of the First Nations' traditions of oral history," says Naveen Mehta, a lawyer, and Director of Human Rights for UFCW Canada. "As the largest private-sector union in the country, our members are very concerned as to the manner in which the tribunal cancelled hearing dates, gave suggestions to the federal government's legal counsel, extended deadlines for the filing of the federal Expert Report, and failed to properly take into account all the evidence in this case," says Brother Mehta.

Join over 9,000 others across the globe and "Be a Witness" to this historic case by signing up at www.fnwitness.ca .