To the McGill Community,
Indigenous students condemn in the strongest possible terms the federal government’s recent decision to appeal the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Ruling regarding compensation for First Nations children who were victims of the child welfare system. Moreover, we recognize and welcome the support of the Students’ Society of McGill University in holding the government to account for this flawed decision. The Liberal Government’s judicial appeal demonstrates a keen lack of empathy and respect for First Nations children who were victimized by the child welfare system. Further, we condemn the utter failure of the Federal Government to recognize its own inadequacy regarding the Tribunal ruling.
The Human Rights Tribunal ruling notes that the Federal Government actively discriminates against First Nations youth by underfunding key social services, including access to education and medical care. Further, the Assembly of First Nations notes that the Federal Government is knowledgeable about its discriminatory practices regarding the provisions of First Nations Child and Family Services. The effects of these known discriminatory practices further exacerbate larger social issues such as intergenerational trauma caused by the residential school system.
The Tribunal ruling includes the ordering of the federal government to pay $40,000 to each child who was apprehended by the child welfare system under both Liberal and Conservative governments. The ruling estimates that over 50,000 children have been taken from the Prairies, British Columbia, and the Yukon. This number is higher than the period of apprehended children at the height of the Residential school system. This ruling follows a January 2016 Tribunal ruling which noted that “Canada was aware of the discrimination and of some of its serious consequences… Canada focused on financial considerations rather than on the best interests of First Nations children and respecting their human rights.”
We stand firmly opposed to the treatment of First Nations children, and will express this opposition through a demonstration this coming Thursday. As Indigenous students, we hope that our allies will join us on campus in condemning the treatment of First Nations children and youth.
Tomas Jirousek / SSMU Indigenous Affairs Commissioner and Chairman of the SSMU Indigenous Affairs Committee | firstname.lastname@example.org