Federal government won’t appeal human rights ruling on First Nation child welfare

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says decision part of reconciliation

(Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould during her swearing-in ceremony. APTN/File)

APTN National News
OTTAWA—The federal government won’t be appealing a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that determined Indigenous Affairs discriminates against First Nation children by underfunding child welfare services on reserves.

In a speech to the Canadian Bar Association, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said she would not be appealing the decision. The speech, delivered during the organization’s mid-winter meeting, was posted to YouTube on Saturday.

“I will not be seeking judicial review of this decision,” said Wilson-Raybould. “This is part of the new relationship and necessary in terms of the spirit of reconciliation. While we cannot change history, we can address it, learn from it, move forward and lay the foundation for a better future.”

Wilson-Raybould’s office issued a statement Monday saying the federal government “can and must do better.” The statement said the tribunal decision “is pointing us in the right direction, as a country.”

The human rights ruling, handed down last month, called on the federal government to make sweeping changes to its on-reserve child welfare system.

The human rights case was triggered by a complaint filed by Cindy Blackstock, head of the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society, with the support of the Assembly of First Nations.

Blackstock said she was surprised and pleased to hear Ottawa won’t be appealing the ruling, but she is now looking for action.

The tribunal requested the parties to the case develop a process to implement changes to the child welfare system.

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