Is incremental equality for First Nations Children compatible with reconciliation?

Incremental Equality

From the attached article, “First Nations Child Poverty”, it’s clear indeed that incremental equality for First Nations Children (FNC) is not compatible with reconciliation. In other words, the Incremental Equality (IE) has shown all signs that it does not work for the FNC. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT), through its legislative body and structure, ordered the Canadian government to bring its discriminatory and unlawful conduct to an end, within the shortest time possible, not in more than a five-year budget cycle (James, 2016). From this perspective, the incremental approach has completely failed to provide a true reflection of the nation’s legal obligations under the CHRT.

The compatibility failure can be best understood from a perspective of a 2016 infant. For an infant born this year will be joining kindergarten, even prior to the realization of the full benefit of Budget 2016. This implies that the child is subject to be deprived of equality, beginning with a period believed to be key with respect to the exploration of the defined developmental agendas (Brittain and Blackstock, 2015). Subjecting the child to this experience of discrimination at this crucial time of development has severe consequences. 25% of these children are more likely to suffer from the negative impacts of this discrimination experience, throughout their entire life period (Battiste, 2002).

This year’s budget has taken care of funding for education and child welfare for a period of five years, with more than 50% of both funding comes the year following after the next federal election (Battiste, 2002). According to policy makers, this approach is more appropriate to the different government programs, while at the same time countering the interests raised by FNC, whom in this case are in a highly vulnerable stage of development (Battiste, 2002). In most cases, this applied to the young children. According to neuroscience, from infancy to five years, children are in a critical stage of brain development as well as functioning in their entire life (Battiste, 2002). Also, other than the normal disconnect existing between incremental disconnect and the development of an infant, there comes another significant problem with the approach adopted for the incremental equality which has failed to achieve the set goals. The nation has already failed to achieve incremental equality in a shuffle, and the only option remaining is to realize it in a leap (Blackstock, 2016).

Poor implementation of Jordan’s Principle (JP) has seen incremental equality for the FNC failing to be incompatible with reconciliation. JP is basically a child first principle that is adopted when it comes to seeking solutions for jurisdictional disputes both within and between governments with an aim of ensuring that the FNC are in a position to access public services at an equal opportunity and terms as other children. The House of Commons (HC) supported a motion for the adoption of the JP in 2007, however, the federal government failed to properly implement the JP. As a result of this, since then, the FNC is still experiencing service denials alongside other related cases of delays and disruptions. According to the tribunal, this has been completely discriminatory and contrary the postulates of the CHRT. FNC schools are underfunded and discriminated against even by the federal government through a system that Cindy Blackstock terms as “incremental equality” (Blackstock, 2016). This has led to many remote FNC communities lacking higher learning institutions (James, 2016).

The lack of goodwill from the federal government illustrates that the realization of the incremental equality is completely a mirage. The federal government has shown no efforts towards redressing inequalities with regard to child welfare funding, reflecting its failure towards commitment and readiness to take part in reconciliation. Other than saying the right thing, reconciliation demands actions aimed at realizing the right thing (Battiste, 2002). The federal government needs to come up with a course of action to reduce this disparity.



Battiste, M. (2002). Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy in First Nations education: A literature review with recommendations. Ottawa: Apamuwek Institute.

Blackstock, C. (2016). Justice long overdue for First Nations. YouTube. Retrieved from:

Brittain, M. & Blackstock, C. (2015). First Nations Child Poverty. First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.

James, H. (March 2, 2016). Failing Canada’s First Nations children. Global News. Retrieved from: