Caring about Equality in Indigenous Communities

AuthorColleen Sheppard
Caring about Eality in
Indigenous Communities
They came for the children.
truth anD reconciLiation commission of canaDa1
   assess if a society is respecting equality rights is to look at
how it cares for its most vulnerable members. As Indigenous scholar
and teacher, Patricia Monture, taught us, “only when we under-
stand caring will we understand equality.” 2 Thinking about caring
asks us to explore the real human relations, emotions, and respect
we need to draw on to work towards substantive equality. This chap-
ter explores two important cases where First Nations children were
denied equitable treatment in government funding for health and
child welfare services. The stories in these cases highlight the inequit-
able treatment of children, as well as their caregivers and commun-
ities. We begin with the story of Maurina Beadle and her son, Jeremy
Meawasige, who were refused the funding they needed to continue
in-home healthcare services for Jeremy.3 The second case involves a
challenge to the chronic underfunding of child welfare services on
First Nations’ reserves4 and in the Yukon. The case was initiated and
led by Cindy Blackstock, a social worker who had witnessed the dev-
astating ef‌fects of inadequate child welfare services on the lives of
First Nations children.5
Both cases illustrate the power of individuals and commun-
ities when they stand up for their rights and contest inequities. The

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