The 14-week Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case, which started on Monday, is underway. The hearing will discuss the Federal governments funding of child welfare services on reserves, CTV News reported.
The Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society are alleging that Ottawa funds on-reserve and off-reserve chid welfare differently. They claim that off-reserve children receive amounts that are far more than Aboriginal children living on reserves.
This issue first came about in 2007. The Harper government has since argued that their child and family services funding has increased by 25 percent, climbing up to $6 million annually, CBC News reports.
But if that much money has been used for child and family services, then why are there so many on-reserve children who are being taken away from their families and put into institutional care?
Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations told Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on Monday that he believes many First Nation reserves don’t have the means to keep the thousands of children safe in their homes when their parents go thorough a crisis, so instead they are being sent into institutional care.
“Our children keep being taken away from First Nation families on reserve perhaps in even greater numbers today than during the residential school era,” The Canadian Press reported Alteo saying.
“It's a pattern that looks a lot like the pattern under residential schools,” he added.
The AFN and experts estimates there are at least 27,000 Aboriginal children who have been removed from their families and put into institutional care. This number easily doubles that of residential school students during the late 1940s and 1950s, which still have a lingering effect on the Aboriginal community today.
“The reasons for the removal today are different and relate more to poverty and social conditions on reserve,” Alteo said. “The removal appears not be driven directly by an intention ‘to kill the Indian in the child’ but the consequences are nonetheless the same.”
Under the Indian Act, the federal government is responsible for funding health care, education, police services and child welfare on reserves.