APTN National News
The former Liberal candidate appointed by Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett to conduct consultations on First Nation child welfare issues was given a $437,000 contract to do eight months of work, according to internal documents.
Bennett appointed Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, chair of truth and reconciliation at Lakehead University, as her special representative on child welfare in August 2016. The appointment, which ended on March 31, was made following the January 2016 ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which found Ottawa discriminated against First Nation children by under-funding child welfare services on-reserve.
Wesley-Esquimaux, who ran for the Liberals in 2011, was required to conduct consultations on child welfare, act as a mediator and conduct media interviews and produce a report on the issue, according to the contract obtained by NDP MP Charlie Angus.
Bennett appointed Wesley-Esquimaux while the federal Liberal government was facing censure from the human rights tribunal for failing to immediately implement changes and increase funding to close the funding gap between child-welfare agencies on reserves and those off-reserve.
“The issue here is a government that is in Federal Court trying to squash an order of the Human Rights Tribunal and they hire a former Liberal candidate and pay her upwards of $430,000,” said Angus. “Why would (Bennett) spend almost half a million for someone going around to write reports when the (tribunal) ruling is staring at us in the face?”
The Liberal government is currently before the Federal Court seeking clarification on one of the tribunal’s orders on Jordan’s Principle. Ottawa is challenging part of the order which requires all Jordan’s Principle cases be processed within 48 hours.
Under Jordan’s Principle, the health care needs of First Nations children are placed ahead of jurisdictional disputes between the federal and provincial governments. It also applies to other public services, including education, early childhood learning and child welfare.
Cindy Blackstock, who heads the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, said she felt sticker shock after seeing the dollar amounts in the contract.
“Close to one half a million dollars is an extraordinary amount of money for what appears to be a public relations exercise instead of ending the government’s woeful discrimination toward the 165,000 children affected by the tribunal’s decision,” said Blackstock. “For reconciliation to take hold, the government needs to acknowledge its ongoing discrimination against First Nations children and then move to identify and remediate the government thinking, policies and practices that allow it to continue. There can be no reconciliation while the government of Canada continues to perpetuate injustices toward First Nations children and their families.”
According to the contract, Wesley-Esquimaux was to be paid about $250,000 for her work. The hourly rates and per diems in the contract were blanked out in the released version of the contract. The contract also set aside $100,000 for travel and living expenses along with $87,600 for “other direct expenses.”
The package of documents released to Angus included two separate invoices for the same date range —Oct. 3, 2016 to Oct. 5, 2016.
One invoice for $8,287, was divided between $6,780 for “professional services,” $1,098 for travel and $409 for “miscellaneous.”
The second invoice for the same date range totaled $7,532 and it was divided between $6,000 for professional services and $1,532 for travel.
That same October, Wesley-Esquimaux invoiced the department $10,811 for work done between Oct 6, 2016 and Oct. 31, 2016. Only $344 was spent on travel, the rest was split between professional services, $7,797, and $2,670 for miscellaneous expenses.
Wesley-Esquimaux billed the department a total of $23,656 for one month of work in October 2016, excluding travel, according to the documents.
Wesley-Esquimaux said she remained employed by Lakehead University during her stint as the minister’s representative, but paid back the salary for the three months she spent traveling.
“The work I did on behalf of the government was substantial and more than $100,000 was spent on travel, and covered other expenses,” she said. “For every dollar I made 50 per cent went back to Canada in taxes and I did provide the report I was asked for.”
Wesley-Esquimaux said the criticism she’s facing for the dollar figures in the contracted amounted to “lateral violence” and a waste of time.
“Our people spend far too much time on lateral violence and pulling each other down. I was always supportive of Cindy and her work, she could stand to be as gracious, including APTN. It would be more respectful to support and congratulate someone like me that has spent my entire life advocating, healing, supporting youth and being a positive force for Indigenous people,” she said. “If Cindy and her bunch would work together and stop attacking we could get a lot more done.”
A spokesperson for Bennett said the report compiled by Wesley-Esquimaux would soon be made public and that the contract followed Treasury Board rules.
“We are looking forward to releasing her report in the coming days which will go a long way in informing our work to reform the First Nations family and child services and break the cycle of removing children from their homes and communities,” said Bennett’s spokesperson James Fitzmorris.
Since the 2016 child welfare ruling, the tribunal has issued three compliance orders against the Trudeau Liberals over the slow pace of its required changes.
The Trudeau Liberals have spent at least $707,000 fighting the tribunal’s order.
The previous administration of Stephen Harper went to Federal Court in a failed bid to have the discrimination case, which was filed in 2007, dismissed.
13 thoughts on “Federal minister’s First Nation child welfare representative received $437,000 contract: docs”
I find it intolerable that the Lib. government would create another “consultation” when the work has been done, and when the path forward has already been indicated by that work. This is just another attempt to ignore the court orders and to ignore the UN condemnation of Canada’s response to the crisis of FN funding. It is a divide and conquer technique of the government to pit Cindy Blackstock against Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux. It’s a brilliant, and evil, technique of division by the government, and it continues to be their modus operandi as it has been for decades or more.
Until all First Nations sit down & really look at their situations, and until THEY SOLVE THEM THEMSELVES, nothing will be done. It is time for them to take responsibility & stop blaming everyone else. Shame on this person if she didn’t help her own
Which Liberals do I need to bribe to get my own 400k contracts?
And yet myself n my wife take in two of her cousins Just the clothes on thier back bags of wrong clothes no food Nothing No beds had to scramble around to get all this All out of pocket (ours) no timetable no meetings to check on them Just a phone call n a text asking us … nthese people are in charge of the welfare of these two .. well I guess she has the paper work to justify it while she is the chronic diease on the child system that’s why Nothing is done so enjoy the free money be the First Nation aren’t
This is typical of the Liberals and especially the Trudeau Liberals. First Nations communities have been researched and consulted to death. But they will set up another study or consultation. All these studies and reports end up doing 2 things.
1. They say what everyone knew
2. They give jobs and a lot of money to Liberal friends
It looks like this has done both. It is about time that people start waking up and realizing that Trudeau, Bennet and their gang might sound better than Harper but are cut from the same cloth.
In my humble opinion in order to actually implement to the FULL extent of the recommendations as decided & outlined by the Canadian Human Rights Commission would in fact require conducting a very intense & thorough investigative process to identify & examine ALL areas/events/incidents of discrimination in order to adequately & effectively address & correct all the various federal policies that have been in place of which are discriminatory … to conduct such an intense & thorough investigation would in fact be VERY costly indeed as it would/should by all means involve travelling to EACH First Nations reserve, interviewing those who have been directly impacted by the numerous federal government policies, obtaining their stories of the events/incidents as from beginning to end as they unfolded including the direct & indirect overall impact those events/incidents has had on themselves, their family members & communities … That is A LOT of travelling as there are A LOT of reserves many of which are in remote locations of which the overall travel costs are in fact VERY high indeed … throw in accomodations & meals while travelling to said reserve locations the overall total travel costs goes up … from there once all the travels & interviews are completed the next stop would in fact be to review ALL the federal government policies currently in place that had & played a direct role in the form of discrimination against the First Nations living on reserves to those very same federal government policies currently in place with respect to those First Nations people & others living OFF reserves and the overall direct & indirect impact that those specific federal government policies had on those individuals … which again can ONLY be completed by travelling to as many locations as there are total number of reserves scattered throughout Canada to interview those individuals living off reserve that experienced the very same type of event/incidents as those on reserves … which again, involves A LOT of money in overall travel costs, accomodations & meals … after that, would be to sit down, cross reference all the interviews of both those living on reserve & off … do the comparisons of each event/incident … draw a report of those findings identifying & highlighting the differences of those on reserve & off reserve … and then to do a comparison focusing as to how EACH specific event/incident is dealt with by the federal & provincial government policies of ALL other Canadians residing in rural & urban communities … again, costs involved as generally one must obtain such detailed information from federal & provincial governments by completing Access to Information requests for each type of event/incident as those on reserve & off reserve … then comes the time involved in order to sit down, cross reference ALL combined in order to specifically identify the differences so that the actual changes can be made in a fair & adequate manner to ensure that this level of discrimination no longer exists rather than just throwing a wee bit of money in the hopes that that wee bit of money will cover ALL the various events/incidents of which the discrimination existed …
How many actually know what a person on reserve,gets to live on,not counting having to hire someone to town to get the wee bit of groceries. I’ll tell you,235.00 a month for the last 25 years regardless of yearly inflation.Canada has no idea why they appolligized. Without going and asking people on the reserves. There’s so much shame in neglect,words cannot ever replace respect .Even handy app people get less than that ,and I even know some of them, because I went and asked for myself. Caring is not on paper ,not even on the money note .Caring is dignity ,and the way to have dignity is to give it back to where it was taken away.That means only ask if your going to help.Respect is sometimes giving someone the time of day.WAKE UP CANADA, RESERVES ARE THIRD WORLD BECAUSE YOU LOOK AT THEM THAT WAY.PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE WHEN RESPECT IS SHOWN.
What a bunch of crooks the Liberal Party of Canada are. They deprive FN children and communities of potable water and education and then spend this kind of money on their cronies. What frauds!
I know Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux and you can bet she earned every dollar. Nothing any non-Indigenous consult on such a major project would have earned. Let’s just hope that he advice to the Ministry will be acted upon swiftly so that Indigenous children who require assistance will get what they need based on the evidence. Nobody welcomes politics being played at the expense of children’s wellbeing. We are all damn lucky Cynthia was available to do this. Shame on anyone who questions her integrity.
I doubt the actual work portion for her study justifies that amount of money. Half that amount …. maybe.
So she paid taxes to Canada with Indian money, for work that had already been investigated by the Tribunal. Wow,
Amazing how she accuses others of lateral violence and perpetrated it upon them herself in the same paragraph!
“Our people spend far too much time on lateral violence and pulling each other down. I was always supportive of Cindy and her work, she could stand to be as gracious, including APTN. It would be more respectful to support and congratulate someone like me that has spent my entire life advocating, healing, supporting youth and being a positive force for Indigenous people,” she said. “If Cindy and her bunch would work together and stop attacking we could get a lot more done.””
From the article: ““Our people spend far too much time on lateral violence and pulling each other down. I was always supportive of Cindy and her work, she could stand to be as gracious, including APTN. It would be more respectful to support and congratulate someone like me that has spent my entire life advocating, healing, supporting youth and being a positive force for Indigenous people,” she said. “If Cindy and her bunch would work together and stop attacking we could get a lot more done.”
Okay then, I’ll sit on the fence on this one until I hear/read Ms. Blackstock’s rebuttal of Ms. Wesley-Esquimaux’s remarks made against her. Think we could read about that soon Jorge?
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