Three human rights complaints have been filed alleging that Ottawa is preventing, disrupting or delaying access to service for First Nations adults and discriminating against them on the basis of age, race and disability.
On Wednesday, the Public Interest Law Center (an independent branch of Legal Aid Manitoba) filed the complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, appointing Indigenous Services Canada to represent the federal government.
“Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy – all of these related health services that one would expect are just not available to you as a child, but also as an adult, for adults with First Nation disabilities,” said Joëlle Pastora Sala, a. Lawyer and Attorney of the Center.
“Part of the discrimination is that there are no services. So this denial of service is part of the delay in service and part of that disruption of service.”
The complaints allege that denying access to services violates Section 5 of Canadian Human Rights Act.
The center filed the complaints on behalf of Carly Sinclair, 30, Aidan Wilson, 19, and a coalition of adults with disabilities from the First Nation.
Aidan Wilson was born with heart disease and was diagnosed with cancer shortly afterwards. He later suffered a stroke which, although he regained the ability to speak and most of his physical activity, left him with memory loss, impulsiveness, and an inability to control emotions. He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was 10 years old.
Wilson is from Pegui’s First Nation but has lived in Winnipeg for most of his life because the services he needed were not available in his home community.
“It’s definitely been going on for quite some time. First, as a child, especially before the Jordan Principle (which established the right of access to public services for children living in the reserve),” said Joni Wilson, Aidan’s mother and primary caregiver.
“Now that he’s grown up, he’s no longer eligible for these services. We’re back to where we need to start – we have many challenges to get access to disability services in reserve. Although we live in Winnipeg, we have.” communicated that we should “We’re moving back to our home church, our provincial services will be cut off,” she said in an interview.
“It is terrible that we have to try to fight for services and support that people like him should have as a human right.”
Pastora Sala said one of the goals of the complaints was to ensure that all adult First Nations with disabilities in Manitoba and other provinces have equal access to support wherever they live.
“(The federal government) says the most important relationship with them is the relationship with indigenous peoples. If your basic access to basic needs and supports and services to be incorporated into society is not even addressed, we cannot even think about it … Truth and Reconciliation, “said Pastora Sala.
Indigenous Services Canada was unable to respond to allegations of discrimination on Wednesday.
Erik Pindera is a multimedia producer at Winnipeg Free Press.
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