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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sea Change: Setting a precedent


Jean Teillet says Tuesday's ruling calls out Canadians for providing the 'minimal amount we can get away with' for services on First Nations. (Pape Salter Teillet Barristers and Solicitors)

Although human rights cases don't cite precedent the same way courts do, Teillet said, the "damning evidence" in the judgment will have a significant effect on other human rights complaints involving services on First Nations. "[It] will be very hard for them to turn around and make some kind of contrary finding," she said. 
Despite the legal victory, the lawyers said, the federal government faces an enormous task when it comes to taking action. The next step has to be a "sea change" in its relationship with aboriginal people, Hensel said. "The newly elected Liberal government has said a lot of very fine words about their perception and their intentions in this regard," she said. "And now it's time for implementation." Despite her hope that further human rights complaints won't be necessary, if that implementation doesn't happen quickly, "They're coming," Hensel said. Metallic said she recognizes the necessary changes carry a big financial cost. "There's going to have to be an adult conversation about funding things appropriately," she said.
Aboriginal lawyers are cautiously optimistic Tuesday's human rights ruling that Canada fails to provide equal services for children on reserves will legally oblige the government to fix other inequities facing First Nations, including education, housing, access to clean water and health care.

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