Stephen Harper’s Tory government has been deliberately withholding documents from a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal looking into accusations that it deliberately discriminated against First Nations children.
While denying Canada's history of colonialism, Harper has continued it--maintaining conditions of poverty, inadequate housing and lack of resources that lead to First Nations children living on-reserve being five times more likely to be placed in care than children living off-reserve. In the year 2000, a study by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society found the federal government provides 22 per cent less funding to First Nations children than other children. The study called for more funding and support services to keep children safely in their homes, but the goverment has refused.
In 2007 the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations filed a human rights complaint against the federal government, stating that "the Federal government's failure to provide equitable and culturally based services to First Nations on-reserve amounts to discrimination on the basis of race and ethnic origin." It took until February 2013 for the Tribunal to begin their proceedings because government delays and legal objections.
The foot-dragging forced Caring Society executive director Cindy Blackstock to file an Access to Information request. In April, she received some 4,000 documents, about a quarter of which were blacked out, or redacted. These files were received after many of the witnesses had already appeared before the Tribunal. Now the Tories say there are 50,000 more documents, but it needs a delay of many months, to prepare and disclose them.
This fits a pattern of the Harper regime: deny, delay and damage control.
Small wonder that the Harper government has done all it can to keep James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, out of the country. For more than a year Anaya’s requests for a formal visit were simply ignored.
Not content to violate the rights of First Nations children in need, Harper and his crew have revealed their contempt for the rule of law and the very concept of Human Rights. Another reason to support the "Sovereignty Summer" called by Idle No More and Defenders of the Land, including the Million First People's March on June 21 in Ottawa.
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