Death of Tribunal commissioner delays child welfare ruling  

Tribunal to rule on child welfare case in “near future”

(Commissioner Réjean Bélanger (right) sits with Chair Sophie Marchildon during the Tribunal’s hearings into a discrimination case against Canada. Photo: APTN)

APTN National News
OTTAWA – Réjean Bélanger, one of three commissioners hearing a human rights case involving First Nations children, has died.

According to a statement issued by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Bélanger died Sunday.

Bélanger, a lawyer and mediator, was first appointed as a commissioner to the Tribunal in 2008 and was in his second term.

A memorial service is scheduled to take place in Gatineau on Dec. 12.

Belanger, along with Commissioners Sophie Marchildon and Edward Lustig were working on a case launched by the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

Both claim Canada discriminates against First Nations children in care by under-funding the on-reserve agencies charged with their care.

Cindy Blackstock, who heads the Child and Family Caring Society, expressed condolences for Belanger’s family and the tribunal.

“I will forever be grateful that the children’s case was heard before a man with such integrity, dedication and kindness,” said Blackstock, in a statement sent to APTN National News. “Over the 72 days of hearings in the children’s case, I grew to greatly admire member Belanger and I, along with everyone at the Caring Society, will miss him.”

The case started in 2008 and a ruling was expected before the end of the year.

According to a release by the Tribunal, a ruling is due in the “near future.”

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