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11.17.2011

cindy blackstock, another victim of harper's "speak against us and we will hurt you" govt

Our tax dollars at work. The head of an agency that provides services to First Nations children and families accuses the government of discrminating against that community. The agency head is then the subject of a spy campaign, as the Harper government monitors her Facebook page, digs up data on her past and her family, bars her from meetings. Her Access to Information request to see her own file was honoured... after 18 months.

No one who knows this government could possibly be surprised by this. But these incidents deserve more than a sarcastic "So what else is new." We should not become numb to the fact that the present Canadian government is a band of ideological and political bullies.

Tim Harper, Toronto Star:
Why is the federal government spying on Cindy Blackstock?

When does a life-long advocate for aboriginal children become an enemy of the state?

The answer, it would seem, is when you file a human rights complaint accusing your government of willfully underfunding child welfare services to First Nations children on reserves.

Accusing your government, in other words, of racial discrimination.

That’s what Blackstock, as executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, did in 2007.

Since that time, federal officials attended 75 to 100 meetings at which she spoke, then reported back to their bosses.

They went on her Facebook page during work hours, then assigned a bureaucrat to sign on as himself after hours to check it again looking for testimony from the tribunal.

On at least two occasions, they pulled her Status Indian file and its personal information, including data on her family.

As first reported by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, it’s all there in a mountain of documents, measuring more than six inches high, which she recently received after waiting 1½ years for them to be released under access to information legislation. . . .

Blackstock decided to seek her own file after she was denied access to a 2009 meeting with departmental officials on behalf of Ontario chiefs.

Instead, she was made to wait in an anteroom, where she was watched by a burly security guard who towered above her.

“I have never said anything that the auditor general hasn’t said,’’
Blackstock says.

Indeed, in 2008, then-auditor general Sheila Fraser confirmed that substantial shortfalls in federal child-welfare funding on reserves are jeopardizing children’s safety.

Fraser also found First Nations children receive substantially less elementary and secondary school funding per capita than other Canadians enjoy.

"I'm a common sense girl," Blackstock says. "I say rather than spend the money following me around, spend it on the children." . . .

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