Witness Reflections

February 13 to 15, 2012: Federal Court Judicial Review

Witness reflections on Federal Court Judicial Review

Courtney Willis, February 16, 2012


March 14, 2011: Reflections on the decision by Tribunal Chair Chotalia to dismiss the complaint

The decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to dismiss the allegation that the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs has been guilty of racial discrimination against First Nations children, comes as a huge shock to anyone who knows the history of mistreatment of aboriginal communities in Canada... read more

Defence for Children International reflects on Tribunal Chair Chotalia's decision to dismiss the complaint


Witness reflections on Chair Chotalia's decision to dismiss the case

Nancy MacDonald, Nova Scotia, March 17, 2011


March 7, 2011: APTN hearing in Federal Court

I am a student in the Native Studies class at St. Pius X High School. I attended a part of the Aboriginal Rights tribunal on March 7th, 2011. When we all walked in with our shirts and buttons if felt as though we were supporting those who could not be there to support themselves. This was an amazing feeling because we were able to help others realize, even the young generations, a changes must be made... read more



People always say that there are two sides to an argument: the right side and the wrong side.

But at the Tribunal Hearing I only heard one side of the argument, the side of the Aboriginal people who NEED our help.

If the government does not do anything to support and help these people then they would be going against the Grandfather Teaching of humility which is putting OTHERS before yourself. It’s discrimination against these people, if the government does not do anything; a person is a person....read more



Being in the court, I felt a strong sense of disrespect towards the Aboriginals. It's hard to believe what they have been through, and still get treated like a piece of garbage. I can only hope things will finally come through, change for the better. I recently found out in the past couple years there was an apology from the government of Canada to the Aboriginals. For the government to take over twenty years for an apology kills me. They went on for so long in silence. For me to be a part in raising my voice, I'm proud - proud to be helping the ones who lost their lives.

All the hurt and pain the Aboriginals went through really makes me thankful for the life I'm living but hurts me that others aren't as privileged as me or others. Aboriginals should have the chance to live a great full life, and it's very sad to know many are not given this chance.

Lindsey, High School student, Ottawa, ON


Aboriginal people are equally contributing citizens in our society. This issue of inequality for Aborignal rights and freedoms should not be ignored because this is an incredibly serious matter. We must educate the generation today that what happened during Residential Schools still lives within the heart and souls of Aboriginal people. This sort of thing doesn't drift off into the wind and is forgotten. This effects their lives. read more

Lauretana, High School student, Ottawa, ON


When I learned of the Tribunal for the Rights of Aboriginal children I was astounded. The fact that children live in these terrible conditions and don't have access to the education we as Canadian students have, appalled me. These children are as much of Canadian citizens that we are, and it is our right as such to have a proper education. It shouldn't matter that they have a different skin tone and cultural beliefs, all that should matter is that they are children forgotten and mistreated.

It's unfair that they live without having their basic human needs met, when we in comparison have so much. At the hearing the prosecutor was correct in saying that it is a violation of rights. They have a right to safety and to be aware of the fight for their rights. The government is taking what seems to be a backwards stance on this issue. They should be supporting the fight for the Aboriginal rights because they dare to say that we are a society of equals; clearly this is not the case.

Leslie, High School student, Ottawa, Ontario


June 2,3, 2010: Tribunal hears Canada's motion to dismiss the case on legal technicalities

I attended the hearings in the morning on both days. My overall perception is that Canada has no platform to stand on and there were contradictions. I noticed that Canada was just dragging out the topic. I'm left assuming that that Canada has no justification for trying to get out of its responsibilities. I want to say that when I first started the process of "being a witness", I only learned about one side of the story...the First Nations' children's side. After witnessing both days of the Tribunal hearings, I realize that there IS NO OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY.

Shannara Nafe, Elizabeth Wyn Wood student, June 2&3, 2010, Ottawa


I was at the Tribunal because I am supporting Aboriginal children that the government is being unfair to. I feel, after being there that morning, that there might be a possibility that they might start being fair to the First Nations children. There were a lot of people at the hearing to support them, and I have faith in what the human rights lawyers are trying to do. If I get an opportunity to do this again, I will come out and offer support.

Samantha Stanley, Elizabeth Wyn Wood student, June 3, 2010, Ottawa


I was at the Tribunal to witness something that's of relevance to the whole community, not just to me or them. A part of me was feeling angered that I had to hear the the lawyers for the AFN and the FNCFCS have to defend and champion their cause without even the guarantee of evidence being heard. The bureaucracy (Canada) has tried to approach this human tragedy with sterile indifference, as if it weren't a Human Rights case at all, but an obscure, legal proceeding that has no direct relationship to communities that are so afflicted.

Abdurrahman Mujber, Elizabeth Wyn Wood student, June 3, 2010, Ottawa


I went to the Tribunal Hearing because I realized that what is happening isn't right and its just more assimilation. By being there, it shows that I care and that young people care and take an interest. The government lawyer just talked around the issue. He just said so much stuff that was useless and not worth being said. I felt he was trying to somehow trick people into thinking the issue is just not theirs to worry about. Basically, I felt he was trying to get Canada out of something and that's just not right.

Jon Dundas, Elizabeth Wyn Wood student, June 2, 2010, Ottawa


Three hours of useless "blah, blah, blahing from the Canadian Federal Government lawyer. Watching their attempt at rewording the same phrase over and over again made me furious. It looked as though the Chair was a little uneasy as well. At least 100 people were there supporting the First Nations children. Why the government even thinks they have a case is beyond me. Canada needs to get serious about this and realize that discrimination will no longer go unnoticed and supported!

Aimee Brake, Elizabeth Wyn Wood student, June 2, 2010, Ottawa


I attended the tribunal to support the First Nations children in the battle over welfare funding, or rather, underfunding. While I was present at the first of two days of the tribunal, I found myself becoming rather fatigued with the Canadian lawyer. He ahd a monotone voice through his argument, which led him to be heard and seen as disinterested with the case, and the children themselves. He made himself seem very "bored", as if he was simply doing his job and that's that! I had difficulty deciphering what exactly it was he was trying to get us seeing as he used many legal terms that not everyone in the room would fully understand. He presented himself and his arugement very poorly. It almost seemed to me like he might have been trying to evade respnsibility. To him, it may have been "just another case" but to some, including the Elizabeth Wyn Wood students, it was life; it was the beginning of what could be a break-through in society.

Carlie Cassell, Elizabeth Wyn Wood student, June 2, 2010, Ottawa


February 23, 2010: Canada cross-examining Cindy Blackstock, PhD in effort to get the case dismissed

On February 23rd, 2010, I was a witness to Cindy Blackstock's defence for First Nations children in the child welfare system in Canada. The whole experience was very moving. Listening to the lawyer representing Canada made me feel like he really didn't care at all. His questions went around the fact of who Cindy was and what she did. I felt like his cross-examination wasn't leading to anything productive. I really hope Cindy wins and the Tribunal is allowed to get on with its job. I hope the First Nations' kids get what they need and deserve. Cindy really knows her stuff and gets her point across strongly. One big thing that would help is the public's involvement to get the government to listen.

Sam Wells, High School Student Elizabeth Wyn Wood, Ottawa


After hours of Mr.Taylor interrogating Cindy with pointless questions that have little to do with the problems at hand, Cindy keeps her cool and answered all his questions calmly and thoroughly. She has nothing to hide. She knows far more than Mr. Taylor himself. I find it amusing. The government wants an excuse to have the Tribunal dismissed. Well they're not going to find one through Cindy. Cindy knows what shes talking about, and as I sit here and soak in her knowledge, I realize how wise she is. Now, why can't the government just do the right thing?

...Twenty more minutes have passed and there are more pointless questions, Cindy still answering them all perfectly while holding a baby eagle feather and tobacco given to her by us, students from Elizabeth Wyn Wood. Mr. Taylor, Canada's lawyer, has to come up with a good reason as to why the Tribunal should be dismissed and really there is no reason except for the fact that the government is scared, and does not want justice to be done. It's no wonder the government doesn't want this to be public. It is quite embarrassing and sad to think that our government is trying to get out of its responsibility to provide the same quality of services to First Nations children in the child welfare system as they do to non-Native children. I am a student and I am aware and I am going to make sure other youth are aware. Cindy is speaking for others who cannot speak and that is amazing. So I am going to speak for others who cannot be here today and make sure they're aware.

Summer Bisson, Elizabeth Wyn Wood Alternative School student, Ottawa