For Immediate Release
Coast Salish Territory – It took nearly a decade for the decision to wind its way through the courts. Today, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) confirmed that flawed funding formulas for on-reserve child and family services have resulted in inequitable levels of service for First Nations children and their families. The CHRT ruled this is a discriminatory policy and the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) in British Columbia agrees.
The FNHC expresses its gratitude to Assembly of First Nations – Phil Fontaine, Shawn Atleo, and Perry Bellegarde. Our national advocacy organization stepped up and advocated for children and families. The human rights complaint was first launched in 2007 but dismissed in 2011 by the CHRT. In 2012 the federal court overturned the decision of the Tribunal calling for a full hearing. The hearing consisted of 500 exhibits and heard from 25 witnesses. The FNHC applauds national political leaders for a decade of legal and political support advancing the issue.
The FNHC commends Cindy Blackstock and the Caring for First Nations Children Society for their tireless efforts to advance this complaint. “Cindy Blackstock is a national hero,” said Warner Adam, Deputy Chair of the FNHC. “The federal government obstructed Ms. Blackstock and this case for nine years and because of Cindy’s persistence today is a more hopeful day for all of us especially for our most vulnerable children who continue to be in care of the state.”
This is a historic decision, and the FNHC welcomes the opportunity to work with First Nations and government partners to implement the findings here in BC. On October 1, 2015 leadership from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, First Nations Summit, BC Assembly of First Nations, and FNHC signed a Protocol on the Social Determinants of Health. This protocol provides a clear process for BC to respond to the CHRT findings and implement recommendations for the benefit of First Nations children and families.
“It’s up to us to ensure speedy implementation here in BC,” said Grand Chief Doug Kelly, Chair of the FNHC. “The conditions underlying this decision continue with real human costs every day for our children and grandchildren. We have the tools, we have the relationships – it is time to act. We are at the table with the BC Government working on a Memorandum of Understanding. In this MOU, we are setting out a partnership and collaboration model for this work based upon our very successful health partnership.”
The FNHC is working with the Province of BC to coordinate action to address and improve the health and wellness of BC First Nation communities. The FNHC is looking to seek similar relationship with the Federal government to address the broader Social Determinants.
To read the Protocol on the Social Determinants of Health please visit: FNHC FNLC Protocol On Social Determinants Of Health (PDF 202 KB)
To read the recommendations please visit: www.fnwitness.ca