Spirit Bear's Guide to Reconciliation

Human and Social Development

- Kate Hildebrandt

“I really wanted something in the room that reminded all of us what this case was actually about, which was children,” says Cindy Blackstock on how Spirit Bear became her champion in the ‘room’ that was federal court. Together, they withstood a nine-year dispute to protect the human rights of First Nation children.

Of the Gitxsan First Nation, Blackstock is the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, and is also a professor with McGill University’s School of Social Work.  

Spirit Bear accompanied Blackstock to every hearing in the landmark case before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. In January 2016, the tribunal found the Government of Canada guilty of racially discriminating against 165,000 First Nations children by underfunding child welfare and failing to provide equitable public services.

On November 13, as part of Fall Convocation, UVic will acknowledge Blackstock for her many achievements, presenting her and Spirit Bear with honorary degrees.

At 2 p.m. the following day, Nov. 14, Blackstock will speak about Spirit Bear's Guide to Reconciliation at First Peoples House—a free event that is open to the public. 

As for Spirit Bear’s story, Blackstock wrote a book, Spirit Bear and Children Make History, with Indigenous writer and educator Eddy Robinson. A film project is also in the works.

Blackstock’s speaking event is co-sponsored by UVic’s School of Social Work, UVic’s Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement, and Indigenous Education and Community Connections at Camosun College. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.


In this story

Keywords: reconciliation, Indigenous, racism, human rights, children, law

People: Cindy Blackstock

Publication: The Ring

Related stories