Rally brings out former foster kids in support of human rights tribunal on child welfare

Tina House
Nearly 200 people turned out for a rally in downtown Vancouver in support of a human rights tribunal order that will see First Nations children who apprehended by the state receive compensation.

Many people here were in foster care including Jaye Simpson.

“I was in British Columbia for 16 years,” said Simpson. “I was apprehended when I was three years old. I moved to the Downtown Eastside with my mother where she spent the rest of her life before she died down here.”

Some in the crowd are still grieving the loss of loved ones that died after aging out of care.

Quentin Reece, 29, died recently after struggling with addictions.

His friend Dawn Johnson, who also grew up in care, spoke ahead of the rally.

“Quentin changed my life,” she said. “He had this really powerful energy this really bright light within him. Then he struggled with things but you didn’t see that part of him you saw this love and this energy and this ability to connect people and even now that’s what he’s doing he’s connecting all of us.”

Robin Raweater, an inter-generational residential school survivor and is now a mother herself, also spoke ahead of the march.

“Children are suffering every single day children are dying in the child welfare system nobody is being held accountable,” she said.

Starting Monday in Ottawa, the court will hear arguments on the government’s application to have the ruling from the tribunal to pay First Nations children $40,000 if they were apprehended on reserve, set aside.

In January 2016, the tribunal ruled that Canada discriminated against First Nations children.

Again, in September 2019, the tribunal released its compensation ruling saying that the discrimination was “wilful” and “reckless.”

The government says it acknowledges it discriminated against First Nations children by underfunding the child welfare system on reserve but says the tribunal has over stepped its bounds by announcing across the board compensation.

Some in Vancouver weren’t buying it.

“The Trudeau government challenging this is also an act of genocide,” said Simpson. “This is an act of destruction of culture language and life he thinks he can spend billions of dollars taking these children to court what is reconciliation if he keeps on taking these children to court.”

Cree Justice Paul Favel is overseeing the hearings in Ottawa.

The Tribunal gave the government and the parties involved in the hearings until Dec. 10 to work out a plan to notify the people who would be eligible for compensation.

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