Kids on First Nations have been shafted by the government.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that Ottawa fell well short on child welfare services for reserves.
The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs is committed to righting the wrong. Carolyn Bennett says the government will work with the Assembly of First Nations to reform welfare for indigenous children.
“This is a very difficult issue that crosses on reserve, off-reserve. We want a real system that will protect those children, keep families in tact if at all possible. There are many ways that we can wrap services around a family so that the child isn’t taken from the family, and some other family is paid to raise them. That doesn’t make sense to me.”
The Children’s Advocate for Manitoba Darlene MacDonald says the decision could be a game changer for families across the country, especially here in Manitoba.
“This could pave the way for real, substantive, and long overdue improvements for First Nations children and their families. The government must now accept its central role in creating the real change process which must lead to measurable improvements for outcomes for First Nations children and youth.”
Premier Greg Selinger agrees that this is a good first step.
“The child welfare system is a place where, if you work closely with communities, you can actually prevent a lot of these problems by the proper investments early on in a young child’s and a young family’s life.”
Selinger adds that getting kids started off right sets their course for the rest of their lives.
“We believe that the way to address these issues is to get those early investments to get those early investments to support families and children when they’re young, before the problems start.”
The ruling dates back to a complaint by First Nations groups filed back in 2007. They alleged that not providing level funding for services violated the Canadian Human Rights Act.