Federal Aboriginal Affairs department spying on advocate for First Nations Children
By Annette Francis
APTN National News
The federal Aboriginal Affairs department has been spying on a high-profile campaigner for First Nations children, documents show.
The department has amassed a large file on Cindy Blackstock, who heads the First Nations Child and Family Caring society.
The file contains emails and notes about Blackstock’s personal information and critical briefings on her activities.
“They have found it necessary to not only put one employee onto tailing, but if you look at the records there are numerous employees on the government payroll who are being asked to comment on what I am doing or to violate my privacy by going on my personal Facebook pages,” said Blackstock.
Blackstock has for years been pushing for equity for First Nations children caught up in the welfare system.
In 2007, her organization filed a human rights complaint against the federal government claiming discrimination against First Nation children.
She says the lawsuit changed her relationship with the department. Soon after, Blackstock said she was barred from a departmental meeting she had attended with Ontario chiefs.
“They barred me from the room,” said Blackstock. “And had a security guard guard me during the time I was there.”
The incident led Blackstock to file an Access to Information request about herself, to see what information the department had on her.
It took a year and a half for her to receive the file and, to her surprise, they watched her every move.
“Not only had they been on my personal Facebook page, but they had a government employee go to their home at night and log in as an individual, not as the government of Canada…and go onto my Facebook page and take a snapshot of it and then have that in a government of Canada log,” she said.
Aboriginal Affairs staffers also monitored Blackstock as she made presentations about the state of First Nations child welfare across the country.
The file contains briefing notes with critical details of the topic and her speeches.
APTN National News contacted the department.
The department refused to comment on the Blackstock file and instead issued a statement saying Aboriginal Affairs “routinely monitors and analyses the public environment as it relates to the department’s policies programs, services and initiatives…social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are public forums, accessible to all.”