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Indigenous Activist Wins $20K Ruling Against Former Chuck Strahl Assistant

The tribunal ordered the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to pay Blackstock $20,000 for pain and suffering caused by the behaviour of David McArthur, former special assistant to then-minister Chuck Strahl (MP Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon).

Blackstock, a member of the Gitxsan First Nation, is the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. In 2007, she filed a human rights complaint alleging the federal Aboriginal Affairs department discriminates against First Nations children on the basis of race by underfunding services on reserves. Blackstock’s name made headlines last year after reports that the federal government had been spying on her without a warrant since her complaint.

The dispute between Blackstock and McArthur is centered on a 2009 meeting at the ministerial headquarters in Gatineau, Que. McArthur allegedly stood outside the door and blocked Blackstock from entering the room in a gathering with the chiefs of Ontario.

McArthur is now chief of staff to Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford. Strahl went on to serve as the chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) before resigning in January 2014 after Vancouver Observer reported that he had registered as a lobbyist for Enbridge.

“There is no doubt that the respondent’s actions had a wilful and reckless nature,” the ruling said, of McArthur’s actions. “Dr. Blackstock was the only individual excluded from the meeting, which supports her contention that she was singled out.”

Blackstock said she plans to donate the money to childrens’ charities.

“I haven’t received anything as of yet, and of course, we have to see within 30 days if the federal government is going to appeal it or not.”

In the House of Commons on Monday, opposition parties asked if the government would apologize to Blackstock.

Last week, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian residential schools called on the federal government to enact child welfare legislation that “establishes national standards for aboriginal child apprehension and custody cases.”

The government is currently reviewing all 94 recommendations issued by the commission last week.

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