The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) – fully supports the human rights complaints filed this week on behalf of First Nation citizens living in what is now Manitoba.
Three human rights complaints were filed against the federal government this week alleging systemic discrimination as well as a failure to provide proper services where they were needed for First Nation adults with disabilities. The Public Interest Law Centre brought the complaints on behalf of two First Nation people, both of whom are from southern First Nations. “We have laws and principles, such as Jordan’s Principle, to protect First Nation people and ensure our citizens finally receive the full and proper care that they deserve. Clearly and unfortunately, the system continues to fail us despite these laws,” stated SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “Though we are continually let down by colonial governments in this country, it is heartening to see First Nation citizens standing up for their rights and demanding better treatment and the substantive equality they deserve.”
Aidan Wilson from Peguis First Nation and Carly Sinclair from Sagkeeng Anicinabe First Nation have both experienced discrimination when seeking essential health care and services. Aidan was forced to leave Peguis First Nation and live in Winnipeg due to challenges receiving help and services for his disabilities. Living in Winnipeg has meant separation from his community and culture, and this separation was highlighted in the complaint. “The federal government continues to not only discriminate against our people but also separate them from their home, extended family, and community,” said Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson. “It’s unimaginable to me that at a time when the truth of the destruction caused by residential schools and separating children from their homes is finally coming to light for all of Canada to see, the federal government continues to contribute to the separation of our communities. It’s heartbreaking that Aidan and his family cannot live where they want to, with their people, due to systemic failures.”
Carly Sinclair has a rare neurological disorder caused by a mosquito bite, and she does not receive regular doctor’s visits and is excluded from many aspects of daily life that most Canadians take for granted. “Carly has suffered needlessly,” stated Sagkeeng Anicinabe First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson. “All First Nations should receive adequate and full services and care for their citizens with disabilities, the same as Canadians living off reserve. This should include our adult citizens, especially those who received inadequate access to services as children and now continue to be discriminated against as adults.”
Jordan’s Principle, named after Jordan River Anderson who passed away while in hospital in Manitoba as provincial and federal governments fought over which order of government would pay for his care, legally requires that First Nation children with disabilities receive the support and care they need when and where the need them, regardless of jurisdiction. Unfortunately, this principle does not extend to adults.