Sept. 14, 2016
For Immediate Release
WATERLOO – Cindy Blackstock, Indigenous children’s rights activist, will speak at Wilfrid Laurier University to mark the Faculty of Social Work’s 50th anniversary Sept. 22. The talk, entitled, “Canada’s Failure: Not doing better when it knows better for First Nations children,” will be held at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“Cindy’s career as a social worker and her dedication to bringing justice to Indigenous children in Canada represent the core values of Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work,” said Dawn Buzza, acting dean of the faculty. “Our faculty is focused on issues of equity and social justice; Cindy’s story reflects the huge impact that social work can have on society and social policy in Canada.”
The lecture will examine Blackstock’s work to expose a long pattern of Canada’s federal government repeatedly failing to address problems facing First Nations children. The lecture culminates in a discussion of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s legal ruling in January 2016 that Canada racially discriminated against 163,000 First Nations children by providing inequitable child welfare services and failing to implement Jordan’s Principle, a child first principle used in Canada to resolve jurisdictional disputes. Strategies for redress, including the participation of children, will be discussed.
Blackstock is the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, an associate professor at University of Alberta and is a member of the Gitksan First Nation. Blackstock has spent 25 years as a social worker in child protection and Indigenous children’s rights. Her work has been recognized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Aboriginal Achievement Foundation and the Frontline Defenders, among many others. Blackstock is the author of more than 50 publications and has collaborated with other Indigenous leaders to assist the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in the development and adoption of a General Comment on the Rights of Indigenous children. She recently worked with Indigenous young people, UNICEF and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to produce a youth-friendly version of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Blackstock is currently completing a Master of Jurisprudence in Children’s Law and Policy at the Loyola University Chicago.
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On Sept. 6, 1966, Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work (FSW) first opened its doors at Wilfrid Laurier University in space provided by the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. There were 28 students enrolled that year. The dean was Sheldon L. Rahn. Today, there are almost 600 full-time and part-time BSW, MSW and PhD students at Laurier. The faculty was renamed the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work following a donation by the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation in 2003. The faculty has been located in Kitchener in the former St. Jerome’s College building since 2006.
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