The incredible thing about Cindy Blackstock’s landmark racial discrimination case against the government of Canada is that it almost didn’t happen at all.
Nearly a decade ago, the social worker filed a human rights case that claimed First Nations kids are systemically denied access to the health, education, and child welfare services that are widely available to non-First Nations kids. Within a month, the feds cut all of the funding to her nonprofit First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.
“We lost 50 percent of our staff,” Blackstock said. “We had to go pro-bono on our legal, we were much more reliant on volunteers, and I think all of us at the Caring Society worked double time without being paid… During the same period, the number of people increased at the Department of Indian Affairs, so it was much different over there.”
You might call this the first suckerpunch in the government’s long and dirty fight to keep Blackstock out of court. It set the tone for nine years of surveillance, interference, legal loopholes, and cover-ups that ultimately didn’t work. Canada’s human rights tribunal ruled that indigenous kids are discriminated against in January and has since issued two compliance orders against the slow-to-act feds. (VICE)