Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo delivers a speech during the opening ceremony at the Crown-First Nations Gathering in Ottawa January 24, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie
In a strongly worded press release issued Friday, the Assembly of First Nations, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Canadian chapter of the international human rights organization charged that the government's action "jeopardizes fair and equitable treatment of First Nations children."
The application for appeal comes after an April 18, 2012 decision by the Federal Court directing the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to examine evidence that First Nations children are being discriminated against because of federal underfunding of child protection services on reserve.
That court decision confirmed the government could be held accountable under the Canadian Human Rights Act for ensuring that First Nations people on reserve have fair and equitable access to government services.
"Canada has a clear obligation to stand up for the best interests of children and ensure that everyone has access to timely redress for human rights violations," said Craig Benjamin, a spokesman for Amnesty International Canada.
"It is so disappointing to see the federal government put its interests ahead of the interests of children again by pursuing these legal technicalities and trying to avoid a full hearing on the discrimination matter," Dr. Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, said in the statement.
"This application for appeal will only continue to delay the hearing of our human rights complaint, while the lives and futures of our children continue to be compromised," said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo. "The tribunal was set up for a reason. We must use this and all other avenues to ensure the safety of our children - the future for all of us.
An appeal process will only add barriers and further violates the rights of some of the most vulnerable."
Just last week, at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City, the government said, "Canada is committed to promoting reconciliation between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal population in Canada.
The process of reconciliation includes a commitment to continually improving the relationship with Aboriginal peoples based on knowledge of our shared past, mutual respect, and a desire to move forward together in partnership."