Children’s activist sends message to Canadian politicians during talk at FNU
REGINA-- An Ottawa social worker and children’s activist is sending a message to Canadian politicians to do more for Indigenous children.
Cindy Blackstock was the keynote speaker at a conference at First Nations University of Canada entitled “Whose Settlement Agreement”. The gathering attracted delegates from across North America with the main focus on the 60’s Scoop and residential schools.
"…Is for politicians to adopt and implement the Spirit Bear plan and recommendations of great reports, the Missing and Murdered Woman and Girl’s Inquiry and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” said Blackstock. “The good news is we have the answers and all we need to do is implement them.”
The title of Blackstock's talk is “Is it Genocide: A history of First Nations Child Welfare in Canada”. During the talk, she spoke about wanting to see provincial governments do more for First Nations children instead of leaving it to the Federal Government to look after the wellbeing of kids on reserves.
"It’s not ethical in my view nor do I think it’s legal for provinces to stand at the reserve line and allow these inequalities to unfold for First Nations kids,” she said. “I think that definitely could be subject to a charter challenge because it’s the unequal treatment of children who happen to be in Saskatchewan."
Blackstock is also focused on the Federal Government's appeal of the Canadian Human Right's Tribunal ruling that ordered Ottawa to pay compensation to Indigenous children and families separated by the child-welfare system.
"That's the most devastating thing, is that the tribunal has found that some children died as a result of these inequalities and many others suffered family separations that were unnecessary," she said.
Another part of Blackstock’s talk focused on the Federal election and the importance of voting. Organizers of the event said Blackstock represents the current ongoing struggles for Indigenous families.
"Bringing her here, it illustrates these system of assimilation and genocide as she calls them are not over but they are ongoing,” said Allyson Stevenson, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of Regina. “It just really tying together that these are not sort of dark chapters in Canadian history rather an ongoing problem that we have in Canada."