Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper listens as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine (R) speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 11, 2008. Canada, seeking to close one of the darkest chapters in its history, formally apologized for forcing 150,000 aboriginal children into grim residential schools, where many say they were abused.
Credits: FILE PHOTO
On June 11, 2008, Harper apologized for the treatment of First Nations people and more than a century of an assimilation policy that profoundly damaged Aboriginal communities across the country.
The IBA says the government recently filed an appeal of a federal court decision that directs the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to hear a complaint that First Nations children are being discriminated against because of federal underfunding of child welfare services on reserves.
The First Nation Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCS) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) filed the complaint in February 2007 alleging discrimination by the Department of Indian Affairs.
Currently, First Nations receive 22% less funding for child welfare on reserve compared to funding by provincial governments off reserve, the IBA says.
It also charges that Canada underfunds preventive services, which FNCFCS and AFN allege results in the removal of First Nations children from their reserve homes.
The IBA says that Tribunal's chair dismissed the complaint on the grounds that funding could not be compared to provincial funding. That decision was overturned by the Federal Court in April 2012 and is now being appealed by Canada.
"In recognition of our collective past and in support of a better future, people across Canada will be coming together on June 11th to participate in Our Dreams Matter Too, a national walk and letter writing campaign organized by the FNCFCS where Canadians will call on the Harper Government to give Aboriginal children the same chance to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and proud of their cultures," the IBA said in a statement.
"The Harper government continues to fail Aboriginal children in Canada in spite of its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other human rights instruments," IBA president Koren Lightning-Earle said.
"The statistics about Aboriginal children in Canada are dire," she added. "When it comes to Aboriginal children, Canada's words and its actions don't match up."