MEDIA ADVISORY: Canada Must Give First Nations Children Equal Rights Indigenous Youth Tell United Nations Committee on Rights of the Child

Logo - KAIROS Media Release

For Immediate Release
1 February 2012

UNICEF Logo(Toronto)  Six Indigenous youth ambassadors from across Canada will meet with the
United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) next week to urge to the UNCRC
to pressure Canada to end inequities faced by First Nations children.

The youth will outline their concerns at a news conference in Toronto tomorrow held
by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (Caring Society) in
advance of their departure for Geneva.  The news conference is being hosted by the
Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth in Ontario.

The youth ambassadors will explain to the UNCRC how Canada discriminates against
them in many areas, including education, health, child welfare, culture and languages.
They want the UN to pressure Canada to end this inequality so that First Nations children
will have the same opportunities as other children in Canada to grow up in safe homes,
attend clean, well-built schools, and to be healthy and proud of who they are.

WHO:    Indigenous youth ambassadors from across Canada.
Names and brief biographies of the youth are below.  More complete bios are available at
WHAT:    News conference
WHERE:    Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
401 Bay Street, Suite 2200.
WHEN:    Thursday, February 2, 2012 – 9:00 AM
WHY:    Canadian government policies discriminate against First Nations children
and lead to inequities in a host of areas including education, health and child welfare.
The Caring Society and KAIROS:  Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives released a
joint submission to the UNCRC on this issue on October 24, 2011.
Honouring the Child is available at or

This fall the UNCRC will review how well Canada is complying with its
obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The youth ambassadors
are hoping to influence the outcome of that review.  They will be accompanied to Geneva
by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the Caring Society, Ed Bianchi, Indigenous
Rights Program Coordinator for KAIROS, and Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children
and Youth with the Office of the Provincial Advocate for  Children and Youth (Ontario).

Media contacts:

Cindy Blackstock, PhD.
Executive Director
First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada
(613)    793 8444

Ed Bianchi
Indigenous Rights Program Coordinator
KAIROS:  Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
(613) 235 9956

Laura Arndt
Director of Strategic Development
Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children (Ontario)
(416)    325 5669

Adiat Junaid
Communications Program Coordinator
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
(416)    463 5312, ext. 223

Youth Ambassadors:

John-Paul Chalykoff, 24, is a member of Michipicoten First Nation, who currently studies education at Lakehead University in Ontario.

Chelsea Edwards, 16, from the Attawapiskat First Nation is the youth spokesperson for the Shannen’s Dream campaign ( for safe and comfy schools and equitable education on reserves. Chelsea has appeared on national and international media about the inequities in education and other areas affecting First Nations children and youth in Canada.

Helen Knott, 24, is a Dane Tsaa and Cree woman from Prophet River First Nations now living in Fort St. John, British Columbia. A recent graduate of a Social Service Worker and Diploma program and an Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program, Helen plans to pursue a Bachelors of Social Work next September.  She is the mother of a young son and also a poet, writer and a community volunteer.

Madelynn Slade, 22, is a non-status Michel Cree from Alberta currently study Child and Youth Care in British Columbia.

Collin Starblanket, 15, a member of the Star Blanket Cree Nation, has been singing, dancing and participating in traditional ceremonies since an early age.  A keen athlete, Collin also plans to study dentistry.

Kendall White has lived on Temagami First Nation for 12 years. She is involved with many extracurricular activities, particularly those concerning the environment. She recently traveled to Greenland, Iceland, Labrador and Nunavut along with 70 other youth from around the world, to study the effect

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