The federal government has spent more than $3 million stonewalling a human-rights tribunal to probe First Nations child welfare, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn Atleo says.
The AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, who allege the federal government fails to provide adequate series to reserve children, began laying out legal arguments at a quasi-judicial human-rights tribunal in Ottawa on Monday.
“It has been a long and lengthy case,” Atleo told QMI Agency. “When we see the government … doing bureaucratic legal manoeuvering in order to sidestep the tribunal hearing, it really calls into question the need for there to be action that is congruent with words.”
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearings, which will take place over roughly 14 weeks, will address allegations of systemic under-funding of services, including reserve education, and high rates of aboriginal children in foster care.
Government House leader Peter Van Loan denied a reserve education funding gap in the Commons Monday when pressed by opposition members.
“It is certainly the case that the education funding provided by the government is comparable to that which is provided for off-reserve Canadians by most of the provinces,” Van Loan said, calling for First Nations and all levels of government to collaborate for results.
There is a federal consultation process underway for a First Nations Education Act, expected to be in place by 2014.
Conservative MP Bernard Valcourt was propelled to the post of aboriginal affairs minister last week to replace John Duncan.