Have a Heart Day is an annual appeal for all First Nations kids to have the opportunity to have a healthy and safe childhood. Lead by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, Have a Heart Day calls on the federal government to end the widespread and systemic underfunding of basic services that First Nations children and families need and deserve, from safe, quality schools to culturally-appropriate family supports and services.
Individual actions and community events take place on and around February 14th (Valentines Day). Last year at least 70 Have a Heart Day events were held across Canada and more than 10,000 Valentine`s cards and messages were sent to Parliamentarians to show that Canadians care about fairness and justice for First Nations children.
Amnesty International is proud that our members have supported this appeal each year through events and individual letter-writing. Here's how you can get involved.
END THE LONG-STANDING UNDERFUNDING OF CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES
In January 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the federal government’s longstanding underfunding of child and family services in First Nations communities is discriminatory and must end. This landmark ruling created the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of First Nations children and their families.
NO MORE BROKEN PROMISES
Every year an alarmingly large number of First Nations children are taken from their families and placed with foster parents or in state institutions. The most common reason is what service agencies call “neglect” – the fact that parents are unable to adequately meet basic needs such as housing or supervision. In such cases, the drastic step of removing children from their families is supposed to be the last resort. However the federal government’s long-standing underfunding of services in reserve communities and the Yukon often means that the kinds of supports needed to keep families together are simply not available.
Federal funding for First Nations family services is much less per child than provincial and territorial funding for services in predominantly non-Aboriginal communities. This is despite higher costs associated with providing services in small and remote communities and the often greater need created by the history of mistreatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada, including the lasting effects of the residential school system.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has now ruled that the federal government must take immediate action ensure sufficient funding to meet the real needs of First Nations children and families. This includes immediately implementing “the full meaning and scope of Jordan’s Principle”, a Canadian standard which says that jurisdictional differences should not stand in the way of the best interests of the child.