International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

casw-acts.ca – For Immediate ReleaseInternational Day of the World’s Indigenous People
August 9, 2010

The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) is acutely aware of the many issues facing the indigenous populations worldwide. In acknowledgement of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, CASW draws attention to the inequitable treatment of First Nations children in our own country, demanding that the Government of Canada relent on its resistance and sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Only two countries have not signed the declaration,” stated CASW President Darlene MacDonald. “The Harper government’s refusal to sign is in itself appalling, especially given that its own Progress Report on Aboriginal Initiatives (2009-10) boasts about developing and implementing a practical and results-driven vision for Aboriginal policy.”

At issue is the Government of Canada’s recent attempts to avoid a full and public hearing on a complaint filed in 2007 by the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCS). The complaint alleges that Canada is racially discriminating by providing less child welfare benefit to First Nations children and families on reserves than to other children and families. The Auditor General of Canada and many experts have confirmed the inequality—and yet Canada is fighting the complaint.

“This inequality is inextricably linked to the growing number of Aboriginal children who are being driven into foster care by the inadequate and inequitable federal government investments in services to keep children safely in their family homes,” stated Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of FNCFCS . “From the perspective of Aboriginal children seeking equality of opportunity on all fronts, the federal government’s decision to not fully address the problem and to fight the complaint is nothing short of systematic discrimination.”

MacDonald affirmed, “CASW is encouraged by the federal government’s recent tripartite child welfare agreement in Manitoba for a prevention-focused approach to First Nations child and family services on reserves. However,” concluded MacDonald, “to truly build a path of reconciliation, the federal government must endorse the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stop blocking a full and public hearing of the child welfare complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and continue to take immediate steps to ensure Aboriginal children receive equitable and culturally based services.”

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For more information contact: Darlene MacDonald, CASW President
Phone: (613) 729-6668; e-mail casw@casw-acts.ca

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