February 14: Have a Heart for First Nations children

Every child has the right grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and be proud of who they are.

It’s hard to imagine anyone disagreeing.

Yet year after year, First Nations children are denied these basic rights.

For most children in Canada, health care, education and family services are funding through the provincial or territorial governments. But for First Nations children on reserves, these same services are funded by the federal government.

Numerous studies – including reports by the Auditor General – confirm the Federal government provides less funding per child for services First Nations children on reserves than the provinces provide for children in their jurisdictions.

This is despite often higher costs of delivering such services in small and remote communities, and the greater need experienced by many First Nations communities.

The math is simple: less money plus higher costs = inadequate services for those who need them most.

This is why Amnesty International supports the annual February 14th Have a Heart Day campaign – a call out for ordinary people across Canada to demand an end to this fundamentally unjust situation.

The Have a Heart Day campaign is led by the First Nations Child and Family Caring, a dynamic non-profit organization led by Dr. Cindy Blackstock which advocates for the rights of First Nations children.

The Caring Society has made joining the Have a Heart Day campaign easy. You can take part by sending a Valentine’s Day card or letter to the Prime Minister and your Member of Parliament.

Visit the Have a Heart Day website for more information and to send an e-Valentine to the government.

If you’re planning to make your own Valentines, find the contact details for you Member of Parliament, visit the Parliament of Canada website.

This year, the National Film Board will mark Have a Heart Day by streaming the extraordinary new documentary about First Nations youth activism called Hi-Ho! Mistahey. Between February 14 and 16, you can watch the film online by following this link.

Send a message to the Prime Minister and demand that in Canada, every child has the right to a safe and healthy home. Take action here.

For more information on Discrimination Against First Nations Children in Canada click here.