Cindy Blackstock's ten year battle with Canada in a timeline - APTN NewsAPTN News

10 year battle against Canada’s discrimination against First Nations children


Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, Senator Kim Pate, and Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations at a news conference in Ottawa marking the 10th anniversary of the battle to get Canada to stop discriminating against First Nations children. Photo: Jason Leroux/APTN)


It was ten years ago that Cindy Blackstock first filed a complaint against the federal government for discriminating against First Nations children across the country. Today there are more than 163,000 children in care because they don’t receive the same services that children who live off reserve are afforded. Here is a timeline of Blackstock’s fight against Canada.

February 23, 2007

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (Caring Society) file complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) alleging that Canada is racially discriminating against First Nations children by providing less child welfare funding, and thus benefit, on reserves.

September 14, 2009

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal opens. Tribunal Chair Sinclair grants interested party status to Amnesty International Canada and to the Chiefs of Ontario.


March 29, 2010

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Chair Shirish Chotalia hears Aboriginal Peoples Television Network’s motion to broadcast the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. All parties except Canada are in favor of the tribunal being televised. Canada suggests that its witnesses, who are almost exclusively public servants, are concerned that their testimony might damage their relationships with First Nations. Canada also notes it is having a hard time getting witnesses to testify on their behalf and worry that televising the proceedings would make it even harder. Caring society files 17 affidavits by First Nations Elders, leaders, youth and parents who want the proceedings televised so they can follow the case.

May 28, 2010

Tribunal Chair Shirish Chotalia rules against APTN motion to broadcast the tribunal hearings. The Caring Society and AFN supported APTN’s application.

 October 2010

APTN argues in Federal Court to televise FN child welfare tribunal. Canada is opposed.

March 14, 2011

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal dismisses the complaint on legal technicality-Caring Society appealing.

April 6, 2011

2011 Canadian Human Rights Commission files judicial review of Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision.

June 30, 2011

Federal Court overturns decision by Tribunal chair Chotalia to not allow broadcasting of the FN child welfare tribunal.

April 18, 2012

Federal Court sets aside chair Chotalia’s decision to dismiss the First Nations child welfare case and returns the matter to Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for a new hearing.

April 24, 2012

Tribunal rules APTN can broadcast child welfare case.

May 18, 2012

Canada appeals Federal Court ruling calling for a full hearing on child welfare complaint.

October 16, 2012

Tribunal amends complaint to include allegations of retaliation by the Government of Canada.

February 1, 2013

Canada proposes cancelling hearing dates for week of February 25, 2013.


February 25 – March 1, 2013

Opening prayers, opening statements by the Assembly of First Nations, The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Chiefs of Ontario, Amnesty International and the Attorney General of Canada and testimony/cross examination of Dr. Cindy Blackstock.

March 11, 2013

Federal Court of Appeal dismisses Canada’s application to overturn Federal Court decision.

July 3, 2013

Tribunal rules Government of Canada violated disclosure obligations by withholding documents relevant to the case.

October 20-24, 2014

Closing arguments on Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case.

June 2, 2015

Truth and Reconciliation Commission issues interim report with 94 Calls to Action. The first portion of the report deals with First Nations children and the inequalities they face.

June 5, 2015

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal finds the federal government did retaliate against Cindy Blackstock.

December 15, 2015

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission issues it’s final report. Volume 5, which deals with the legacy of Indian residential schools, includes a chapter which describes a child welfare system in crisis.

January 26, 2016

Kids win! In a landmark ruling, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal finds the Canadian government is racially discriminating against 163,000 First Nations children.

April 26, 2016

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal releases its immediate relief remedies, including the full implementation of Jordan’s Principle.

May 5, 2016

On May 5, 2016, the CHRT granted Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) interested party status to the First Nations child welfare human rights case, which will enable the organization to contribute to the development of remedies.

May 6, 2016

In its April 26, 2016 ruling, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the federal government to fully implement Jordan’s Principle by May 10, 2016.


May 10, 2016

The Government of Canada responds to the Tribunal’s order to immediately implement the full meaning and scope of Jordan’s Principle. As described on the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada website, the government has expanded its application of Jordan’s Principle to:

  • eliminate the requirement that the First Nations child on reserve must have multiple disabilities that require multiple service providers.
  • apply to all jurisdictional disputes and now includes those between federal government departments.

It also declared that “appropriate services for any Jordan’s principle case will not be delayed due to case conferencing or policy review.”


July 6, 2016

The government submits another compliance report to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. In the submission, the government commits to invest up to $382 million to implement a broader application of Jordan’s Principle, yet it continues to limit the principle’s application to children living on reserve with a disability or short-term condition. Clarification is needed to understand: 1) what the funding announcement really means for children on the ground, 2) who the federal government is applying it to, and 3) how its proposed approach differs from the discriminatory approach it has used up until now.

September 14, 2016

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issues a second Compliance Order against the Government of Canada in the First Nations child welfare case.

October 26, 2016

Manitoba legislature passes motion calling on Canada to comply with the CHRT decisions and implement Jordan’s Principle.

November 1, 2016

NDP motion to force the government to comply with the Tribunal ruling and end discrimination against First Nations children passes unanimously in the House of Commons.

November 22, 2016

Notice of motion of non-compliance filed against the governemt to the Tribunal.

January 23, 2017

The one year anniversary of the historic ruling against Canada by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that stated the government discriminates against First Nations children. On this day, Blackstock turns down money offered by Canada stating she doesn’t take money from organizations that harm children. 

February 23, 2017

On the tenth anniversary of Blackstock’s fight against Canada to stop discriminating against First Nations children, she says the government is no closer to funding the programs that are needed. 


Coming up


March 22-24, 2017

Compliance hearings including matters related to Jordan’s Principle.