They say in government the left hand often doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. The analogy describes situations in which one part of the government will do something that contradicts another department’s policies or statements.
This is the case with permanent placement orders authorized under the Youth Protection Act (Bill 125) when they are applied to cases involving First Nations families and children. This is a case that could very well involve a violation under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as adopted by a UN General Assembly resolution in December 9, 1948. Article 2 states that genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
It could be argued that the permanent placement orders violate Article 2 (e) and possibly (b).
The AFNQL (Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador) has expressed concerns about the law and its impacts on First Nations communities and peoples in Quebec. Rightly so: since Bill 125 was adopted in July 2007, a permanent placement in a safe location, possibly outside the child’s family or community, will be ordered for a child whose safety and development are still believed to be compromised following a temporary placement of 12 months (child under 2), 18 months (child aged 2 to 5 years) or 24 months (child aged 6 years or older).
This will likely result in children being placed with non-Aboriginal families as in Quebec during 2002-03, First Nations children were placed seven times more often than non-Native children. Estimates say this placement discrepancy will go to nine times for 2008-09.
Said AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard, “If Quebec wants to implement permanent life projects, it must do so in a fair, equitable manner, which means taking the means necessary to ensure First Nations families and children benefit from the same services other Quebecers do.”
This is the heart of the matter. Services available outside First Nations are far superior to those accessed within the communities. The AFNQL says the most common reasons for placements are poverty and the lack of local resources. These are also the reasons most First Nations children are placed outside the child’s cultural and social environment.
The Grand Council addressed this new law at a Special General Assembly. A resolution adopted at the assembly reads, “the implementation of certain provisions has caused serious concern about the full impacts on Cree families, communities and social structures…”
People were outraged at this law during the Assembly. Most telling of all was when a majority of Cree Public Health Coordinators threatened to quit if they are forced to enforce this law.
One also remembers the infamous “60s scoop,” when the government forcibly kidnapped many Aboriginal children and put them up for adoption by non-Native families. Look at the results of that residential-school-style fiasco and you can see what’s coming up.
Yes, all this flack on the heels of a public apology for residential schools survivors. Canada makes a public apology but Quebec is still planning to take our children away. Will the colonial practices and attempts at genocide never end?