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Couchiching First Nation chief lauds child welfare funding ruling

The Chief of Couchiching First Nation is applauding yesterday's decision from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on First Nations child welfare.
A human rights tribunal ruling says the federal government is wrong to provide lower child welfare funding to families on First Nations reserves. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)
It's being called a victory for First Nations children. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that Canada is being discriminatory by under-funding child welfare services on reserves. Couchiching chief Sara Mainville has read the report 6:25

The Chief of Couchiching First Nation is applauding yesterday's decision from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on First Nations child welfare.

The tribunal ruled the Canadian government is being discriminatory by failing to provide adequate funding for child welfare on reserves.

The decision has been a long time coming, Sara Mainville told CBC News.

"It's just something to celebrate because we've been waiting for a judgement like this, a decision like this, to deal with the game of hot potato that's been played for such a long time by various governments around our children," she said.

Better funding for child welfare will mean more kids get to stay with their families, she noted, because it will allow agencies to put more emphasis on preventative efforts to keep kids from being apprehended. 

Mainville said the child welfare agency in her own community has been trying to find ways to better support families, but those efforts have been frustrated by jurisdictional issues, and questions over which level of government will provide funding.  

Mainville said the new federal government has indicated that it wants to build a better relationship with First Nations, and she's hopeful that the Tribunal orders will result in positive change soon.

"Let's discuss this ... let's make some transformative change, and let's go to work. Let's work together and make a real difference for our kids," she said.

Mainville said she also hopes the ruling will set a precedent that will lead to better funding for other services on First Nations, such as education.