Cindy Blackstock refuses funding from INAC saying it failed 'ethical screen' test on anniversary of historic ruling - APTN NewsAPTN News

Cindy Blackstock refuses funding from INAC saying it failed ‘ethical screen’ test on anniversary of historic ruling

Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society has refused funding from the federal government because it doesn’t accept donations from funders that harm children.

Canada didn’t pass the society’s “ethical screen” and it has declined $149,000 in funding from Indigenous Affairs said executive director Cindy Blackstock.

“We don’t accept funds from groups that are harming children or who are violating Indigenous rights,” Blackstock told APTN National News Thursday. “Their conduct falls outside of our ethical screen to receive funds from donors.”

Blackstock’s comments come on the one year anniversary of a historical ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that found Canada guilty of discriminating against First Nations children by chronically underfunding programs and services compared to non-Indigenous children.

Since that ruling, the tribunal has issued two non-compliance orders against Indigenous Affairs for failing to meet standards set by the tribunal said Blackstock, who first launched the human rights complaint nearly 10 years ago, along with the Assembly of First Nations.

The tribunal has called for a compliance hearing to be heard in March.

“I am extremely disappointed in this government,” said Blackstock. “They’ve read the decision, so they know the answers are there. They’ve seen a half billion dollars announced for the birthday party (Canada’s 150th birthday). So they know there’s money out there somewhere. There just seems to be a lack of political and bureaucratic will to get the job done.”

The government has responded in affidavits filed Wednesday to the tribunal it’s provided nearly three quarters of the $71 million earmarked for 2016 for the First Nations Child and Family Services program (FNCFSP). It’s part of $634.8 million funding over five years announced in last year’s budget for FNCFSP. That funding was decided upon before the tribunal made its ruling said Blackstock.

Watch Cindy Blackstock comment on the Wapekeka tragedy



She also said at least $10 million of that stayed in Indigenous Affairs for various costs associated with providing the funding to groups across the country.

She has said there needed to be at least $200 million in immediate funding to try and meet urgent needs.

Indigenous Affairs has also told the tribunal in order to fully comply with the ruling it needs to reform how works with organizations on child welfare.

It says it’s developing a “multi-pronged engagement process” to find out what Indigenous agencies need.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said in an interview with Nation to Nation, a weekly political show to be aired Thursday at 6:30 p.m., she believes her department has “made good progress.”

She echoed what the department stated to the tribunal that reforms are needed.

“Too many kids are being put in care, too many kids are being harmed and kids are dying,” said Bennett, adding the government needs to work with agencies to fix that.

Blackstock said the government already knows what is needed and money should have started flowing immediately to the agencies.

Blackstock said she feels she has let children down because her fight for equality is far from over, but is happy the tribunal is sticking to its order to have the government act.

“What I’m feeling encouraged about is of course we have further hearings in March again to try and force Canada into complying with the order,” she said.

There’s also the matter of Jordan’s Principle – it’s a program described as providing funding for First Nations children who need medical care on-reserve. The federal government has taken the approach the principle is for children with critical illnesses or disabilities.

Bennett said changes to the scope made on July 1 last year have already helped 1,500 kids get treatment they otherwise would not have gotten.

“We believe that is significant process,” she said.

Again, Blackstock said Canada has missed the mark and narrowed the scope despite the tribunal ruling the principle is for all Indigenous children – that they have all the same access to all programs and services, from healthcare to education, that other children have.

“Jordan’s Principle is equitable services across all children and across all services,” said Blackstock. “That’s why they are trying to narrow it because I think it costs them too much … in terms of complying with the order.”

The money INAC earmarked for Blackstock and the society is still available. All Blackstock has to do is sign the agreement.

“We asked that they spend the money on the children instead,” said Blackstock.

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12 Responses to “Cindy Blackstock refuses funding from INAC saying it failed ‘ethical screen’ test on anniversary of historic ruling”

    Stephen Leszkovics January 26, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

    Way to stick to your ethics. Very nice Cindy.

    Justin Bige January 26, 2017 at 8:00 pm #

    Well done! Strong principles, show them we refuse to be messed around like that, no corruption. Marsi cho

    Treena January 26, 2017 at 8:43 pm #

    Cindy Blackstock is truly amazing.

    Christine Preston January 26, 2017 at 8:57 pm #

    I FULLY support this amazing woman’s determination and will echo it in my band meetings as to why we should support her position

    MAry Jane Metatawabin January 26, 2017 at 9:47 pm #

    The system of aboriginal care and funding is corrupt. As a family member my matriarch rights are undermined. We are not informed when a parent lis lost thru mental illness of their own. Their own child borne onto them gets immediate apprehension without contacting the other family members. I am in agreement to not accept any funds from the corrupt work ethics of it’s governmental children’s care agencies. The grandchildren have all been apprehended without just cause.

    Bob January 27, 2017 at 2:48 am #

    Ms. Blackstock is the epitome of leadership. You can forget the sad sacks at AFN and mandarins in Ottawa. Reconciliation? What’s that?

    John Morgan January 27, 2017 at 2:29 pm #

    Wonderful Cindy. Your efforts are monumental. Too bad our government has too many who are lacking ethics and are for the most part, dead from the neck up.

    Beth Smith January 27, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

    Such a strong voice Cindy. I admire you greatly for your perseverance and determination. Don’t let the government off the hook!

    Spelexilh January 27, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    Get rid of INAC replace it with something else. It’s outdated and full of crap. Too many rules and hoops we are put through by the government and INAC is a huge one. Leaders of aboriginal communities need to step up their game when it comes to advocating for their people in many ways. You can get a passport quicker then a status card with these people or replacement cards. Education is a joke as well, ESL receives funding yet we’re paying out of our own pockets to save our language.

    Mary Reid January 27, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

    Always have seen this woman as the person who can get our country to brass tacks and ethical behaviour.

    Bill McCoy January 27, 2017 at 11:38 pm #

    Awesome!!! WTG Cindy Blackstock!!!

    MEA February 1, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

    Awesome!!! Vote Cindy for the highest humanitarian Award…in the world!!!
    & this government wants to celebrate 150 years of what??? Genocide! Oppression!! Subjugation!!! Assimilation!!! Deprivation of our lands, resources, languages, cultures, treaty rights, autonomy, family and our children…