Adoption Council Applauds Human Rights Tribunal Decision re: First Nations Children
OTTAWA, ON–(January 26, 2016) – The Adoption Council of Canada applauds the landmark ruling by the Canadian Human Rights tribunal, which has today recognized the federal government’s discrimination in the provision of child and family services for First Nations’ children and families living on reserve and in the Yukon.
The First Nations Caring Society, whose determined work on behalf of the First Nations children we salute, has long raised the alarm about the number of Indigenous children in care across Canada. The ACC is in full agreement and has raised the same issue at two national summits.
“We fully support all aspects of the tribunal’s ruling,” says Deborah Brennan, chair of the Adoption Council of Canada. “We urge the federal government to assess potential remedies and create an immediate action plan describing the ways in which it will implement the tribunal’s decision.”
First Nations’ children and families require access to comparable preservation and support services that still recognize their specific needs. They must be funded at the same level as services non-Aboriginal and off-reserve children and families receive. We hope the federal government will begin moving resources immediately to make sure that they obtain these critical services, and will focus on prevention and maintaining children in their communities, with extended family members and other kin whenever possible.
As the testimony at the tribunal hearings noted, there remains a need for some First Nations’ children to come into the child welfare system for reasons of safety and protection. Sometimes those children need to be placed in foster care outside of their communities. We would urge the federal government to ensure that there are provisions and funds in place for those children and youth to remain in contact with siblings and other family members.
For the thousands of Indigenous children and youth already in the child welfare system across Canada who cannot, for reasons of safety, return to their birth families, we urge the federal government to work with First Nations Child Welfare Authorities and other child welfare authorities to find them permanent families.
Emphasizing permanency requires devoting increased resources to connecting these children and youth to at least one stable, healthy, loving and committed adult, through custom adoption, legal guardianship, kinship care, adoption or reunification. In some cases, those adults may not be Indigenous, but should be committed to connecting those children or youth to their culture and their communities.
Supporting First Nations’ children and youth in finding permanent families also requires the commitment of post-permanency resources at the same level as these children and youth required when they were in care.
“The leadership of Cindy Blackstock and the First Nations’ Caring Society was essential in securing this vital decision,” says Laura Eggertson, interim executive director of the Adoption Council of Canada. “As a result, First Nations children on-reserve and in the Yukon face the prospect of a better future.”
For further information, please contact:
Interim Executive Director
Adoption Council of Canada