Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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May 5, 2016

NAN GRANTED INTERVENOR STATUS IN LANDMARK HUMAN RIGHTS CASE

THUNDER BAY, ON (May 5, 2016): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler welcomes a ruling today by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal granting NAN intervenor status in the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada’s tribunal proceedings.

“We welcome this ruling giving Nishnawbe Aski Nation the opportunity to speak directly for our people and our communities during ongoing Tribunal proceedings on First Nation child welfare,” said NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “We look forward to contributing to immediate and long-term remedies to improve the conditions for the care of our children in our communities.”

Intervenor status will allow NAN to make submissions and important contributions to remedies that will have a direct impact on the delivery of child welfare in NAN First Nations. In its ruling, the Tribunal found that:

NAN’s direct affiliation with remote communities experiencing these issues will ensure their interests inform any remedy issued by the Panel and will assist in crafting an effective and meaningful response to these issues. In the same vein, the NAN’s involvement in developing an Aboriginal child and youth strategy with the Government of Ontario may assist the Panel in crafting effective and meaningful orders to address other findings it made regarding the 1965 Agreement; specifically, that the agreement has not been updated for quite some time and does not account for changes made over the years to the Child and Family Services Act for such things as band representatives and other mental health and prevention services.

The Tribunal delivered a landmark decision in January 2016 that the Government of Canada’s failure to provide equitable child welfare funding for vulnerable First Nations children is discriminatory. The Tribunal confirmed that the federal government is accountable for failing to provide First Nations the same level of child welfare services as the rest of Canada, which is discriminatory and contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

“NAN is grateful that these issues are being pursued but is concerned that they are being pursued in our absence,” said Fiddler. “Too often the people of NAN First Nations are only heard through the voices of others, no matter how well-meaning. This will allow the voices of our people to be heard.”

The human rights complaint was launched by the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada in 2007. The case was brought on behalf of 163,000 children after the federal government failed to implement child welfare reforms recommended by several reports documenting inequalities in funding and access to services.

The Tribunal found that the federal government is racially discriminating against 163,000 First Nations children and their families by providing flawed and inequitable child welfare services and failing to implement Jordan’s Principle to ensure equitable access to government services. The Tribunal also found that federal funding formulas and policies create an incentive to place First Nations children in foster care and do not address the cultural needs of children.

The Tribunal ordered the federal government to cease its discriminatory practices and stop applying its narrow definition of Jordan’s Principle and to take measures to immediately implement the full meaning and scope of Jordan’s Principle. NAN looks to this government to work with all levels of government to take immediate action to develop a strategy to implement corrective measures.

For more information please contact: Tamara Piche, Communications Officer – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4906 or cell (807) 621-5549 or by email tpiche@nan.on.ca.

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