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Decolonizing childhood.

IN JANUARY 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal denounced the federal government's racist practices concerning Indigenous children. In a landmark decision, the tribunal ruled that the government discriminates against Indigenous children on reserves by denying them the same funding for child protection, education and health services that exists for Canadian children.

The result of the underfunding is that more Indigenous children are living apart from their families than at anytime during the history of the Indian Residential Schools system. It is estimated that, since the 1980s, Indigenous children have spent 66 million nights, or 187,000 years of childhood, away from their families. Such statistics motivated people like Cindy Blackstock, a Gitxsan activist for child welfare, to pursue a legal challenge against the government for the past nine years. The tribunal's decision validates Blackstock's position, namely that the Canadian government does not treat Indigenous children equally. In a recent news conference, Blackstock claimed that the decision was a "complete victory for children" and expressed hope that political change will be forthcoming. However, she also asked a rhetorical question that actually requires critical reflection: "Why did (child advocates) have to bring the government of Canada to court to get them to treat First Nations children fairly?"

A careful consideration of the past 150 years of Canadian colonization reveals that the federal government has continually targeted Indigenous children in its assimilation efforts. Be it the Indian Residential School system, the '60s Scoop or the current underfunding of child services, the federal government has tried to control children in its attempt to disrupt Indigenous lifeways and destabilize communities so as to discourage organized resistance to further colonization and capitalist development. Thus, in order to truly stand up for Indigenous children, we must also devise new strategies to stand up against colonialism and capitalism.

A note on our cover art: Featured on the cover is a photograph by Aimoo Panilooof his daughter Destiny. Paniloo and his family live in the Clyde River area of Nunavut where this picture was taken. His beautiful photos of the Clyde River community, the stunning surroundings and some of the wildlife of the area can be seen on Flickr. Paniloo can be contacted through Facebook: facebook.com/aimo.k.paniloo

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Title Annotation:CD Paragraph; government funding for Indigenous children
Author:Carleton, Sean
Publication:Canadian Dimension
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 22, 2016
Words:371
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