Cindy Blackstock is an influential Canadian activist who advocates for child welfare and the protection of the Indigenous people. As a member of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, she played a vital part in appealing against First Nations children’s discrimination at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (Obomsawin, 2019).
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The movie “Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger” transparently demonstrates the ambiguous nature of the law. At present, equality for First Nations is a relevant subject, and even though significant efforts have been made to mitigate the disparity, there is still much room for improvement. From these considerations, it is essential to cooperate with the Indigenous people and compose effective regulations that ensure the well-being of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people. However, frequently, the laws aimed to make the lives of the Indigenous better eventually have the opposite effect. It might occur due to ignorance or lack of cooperation with the Indigenous people; however, it is a relevant problem that should be solved.
Protection by Law
Evidently, all laws supporting the rights of the Indigenous people are supposed to make the lives of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children better. For instance, the recent law Bill C-8 ensures that the Canadian oath acknowledges the status and rights of all Indigenous people (El Gharib, 2021). The regulation promotes cooperation between the Indigenous people and new citizens of Canada, eliminating racism and social status tension (El Gharib, 2021). As a result, the law directly affects First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children since they may encounter less discrimination and prejudice while communicating with their peers.
Consequently, several laws aim to eliminate the disparity in social determinants of health. In other words, it is essential to address the gaps in wealth, education, and social perception between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people (Pearce et al., 2019). Presently, the health status difference between these groups is extensive, and a comprehensive legal approach is required. Furthermore, in the study by Pearce et al. (2019), several respondents explain the difficulties encountered by Indigenous children on a daily basis in regard to healthcare. However, the recent policies consistently change the social disparity for the better, allowing for a complete healthcare approach for children (Pearce et al., 2019). Lastly, the laws also aim to eliminate discrimination within the health facilities and improve provider-Indigenous patient cooperation (Pearce et al., 2019). In turn, this approach enhances the quality of life for Indigenous children.
Law against the Indigenous People
Nevertheless, the implemented laws do not always help the Indigenous people and might even increase social tension. One of the most illustrative cases is the history of the Indian Residential Schools (IRS) in Canada (Bombay et al., 2014). The IRS law enforced the enrollment of Aboriginal children at special schools, in which physical abuse was, unfortunately, a common occurrence (Bombay et al., 2014). Furthermore, the research transparently demonstrates that the misfortunes of previous Indigenous generations are reflected in their children’s behavior and psychological problems (Bombay et al., 2014). This phenomenon implies that the IRS law has had immensely negative consequences for a large number of Indigenous children.
Another problematic law implementation concerns the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in child welfare systems. The issue started with the residential schools and enforced the separation of families while producing intergenerational trauma for Indigenous children (Caldwell & Vandna, 2020). As a result, the number of Indigenous children who are maltreated and abused is significantly higher than that of non-Indigenous children (Caldwell & Vandna, 2020). This consequence is the outcome of the ludicrous law regulations and must not be repeated in the future. Lastly, irresponsible laws might occur due to the lack of cooperation and consultation with Indigenous people. Allard (2018) demonstrates that Canada is one of the only countries with obligatory consultation for legal processes. Nevertheless, the local authorities might obstruct this right, which would create more social tension (Allard, 2018). Ultimately, the laws aimed to improve the lives of Indigenous people might have the opposite effect.
Allard, C. (2018). The rationale for the duty to consult indigenous peoples: Comparative reflections from Nordic and Canadian legal contexts. Arctic Review, 9, 25-43.
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Bombay, A., Matheson, K., and Anisman, H. (2014). The intergenerational effects of Indian Residential Schools: Implications for the concept of historical trauma. Transcultural Psychiatry, 51(3), 320-338.
Caldwell, J., & Sinha, V. (2020). (Re) conceptualizing neglect: Considering the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in child welfare systems in Canada. Child Indicators Research, 13(2), 481-512.
El Gharib, S. (2021). Canada just passed 2 new laws to affirm the rights of indigenous peoples. Global Citizen. Web.
Obomsawin, A. (2019). Jordan River Anderson, the messenger. [Video file]. Web.
Pearce, M. E., Jongbloed, K., Demerais, L., MacDonald, H., Christian, W. M., Sharma, R.,… & Klein, M. B. (2019). “Another thing to live for”: Supporting HCV treatment and cure among Indigenous people impacted by substance use in Canadian cities. International Journal of Drug Policy, 74, 52-61.