Indigenous children still being treated unequally by provinces: advocate

Issue arose during hearings into Canada’s missing and murdered women

A First Nations children’s advocate says Indigenous kids are still not being treated equally because provinces and territories are shirking their responsibilities.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, told the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women that provinces are still denying Indigenous kids access to services that are available to non-Indigenous kids.

The inquiry is holding hearings in Winnipeg this week focused on child welfare.

Despite a ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Blackstock said provinces still aren’t adhering to Jordan’s Principle which stipulates Indigenous kids should get access to services without delays caused by jurisdictional issues.

“Provinces have taken the position ‘Well the feds now are on the hook for Jordan’s Principle, so we are not going to step up to the plate. We are just going to try and see if the feds can pick it up.’ Which is totally contrary to the whole issue of Jordan’s principle,” she said.

The principle is named after Jordan River Anderson, a boy from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba who died without ever being able to go home because of a dispute over who would pay for his health care.

“Jordan died in that hospital because the province of Manitoba and the government of Canada failed to put his best interests first,” Blackstock said.

The tribunal ordered Canada to stop discriminating immediately, reform First Nations child welfare programs and make sure Indigenous kids have their health, education and social needs met no matter where they live.

READ MORE: Involve Indigenous drug users in finding solutions to B.C.’s OD crisis: report

Blackstock said all levels of government are not complying fully with the tribunal’s ruling creating situations where children are put at risk.

“We are creating and we are perpetuating conditions that place Indigenous women and girls at greater risk for violence,” she said.

Blackstock said the federal government has acted on the ruling over the last year but there is still a lot more to be done.

From July 2016 to Aug. 31, 2018, more than 122,000 requests were approved under Jordan’s Principle for things like medical equipment, respite care and mental health services.

However, no province or territory has fully adopted the principle, Blackstock said. Manitoba should have taken more significant action as Jordan Anderson’s home province, she added.

“There is no excuse for any level of inequality,” Blackstock said.

Indigenous children account for about seven per cent of all kids in Canada, but make up more than half the number in care. In Manitoba, Indigenous children make up nearly 90 per cent of kids in care.

A Manitoba government spokesperson said in an emailed statement that further consultation with First Nations and the federal government is needed to eliminate service gaps for children. It said the province is committed to supporting the federal government to ensure Indigenous children have equal access to services.

Indigenous Services Canada spokesperson William Olscamp said in an emailed statement that the federal government is working with First Nations, provinces and territories to develop a long-term approach to address the unique health, social and education needs of First Nations children.

“The bottom line is that kids should come first and they shouldn’t have to wait for governments to get their act together to do the right thing,” Blackstock said.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Harrison country singer teaches kids to ‘follow your heart’

Todd Richard will be performing his song ‘Follow Your Heart’ for students on Feb. 1

Agassiz Harrison Musem gets funding boost from village

The Village of Harrison will be giving the museum $10K in funding each year

Charges possible for alleged drunk driver who refused breath sample in Agassiz

The Kelowna driver refused to give a breath sample after RCMP stopped the car

Case of man caught with 27,500 fentanyl pills in Chilliwack thrown out due to Charter breach

‘Ambiguous’ signal by drug sniffer dog Doodz leads to B.C. Supreme Court decision

B.C. dairy farmers say milk cup is half full in new Canada Food Guide

Despite what seems like a demotion, B.C. Dairy Association insists its inclusion is still integral

VIDEO: Harrison sailor looking for competitors to race model boats

Bernhard Van Velze is hoping to create a club for model sailboats at Harrison Lake

Teravainen’s 3 points lift Hurricanes to 5-2 win over Canucks

Vancouver heads into all-star break on losing note

B.C. hospital apologizes for veteran’s five-day hallway stay

Clinical director of Victoria General Hospital says case of retired veteran ‘definitely excessive’

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

‘Dr. Lipjob’ avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

47 men arrested by Vancouver police for allegedly seeking sex with teenage girls

Seven of those arrested have been charged as part of a two-month operation

Surrey farmers taking stock of revamped Canada Food Guide

Products that were once big at the table — like meat and dairy — have been put on the back-burner

Most Read