West Coast LEAF’s application to intervene granted in part in a complaint of alleged discrimination, as it can contribute a unique and helpful perspective regarding the social context of Indigenous people in child welfare.
RR filed a complaint of discrimination against Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society [“Society”] alleging that its decision to deny her custody and restrict access to her children amounts to discrimination on the basis of her race, ancestry, color, and mental disability. West Coast LEAF applied to intervene in the complaint under s 22.1 of the Human Rights Code [“Code”] stating it could assist the Tribunal to situate the complaint in its broader social context as well as interpreting both the Code and the Child, Family and Community Services Act in a manner consistent with the Charter and international law. RR supported the intervention, the Society opposed it.
Neither party raised issues related to Charter values, and in the view of the Tribunal, none arose in the complaint. Rather, this case involved an application of s 8 of the Code to the facts of this case, within a framework well known to human rights law and therefore the application to make submissions about Charter values was denied. Second, this complaint did not require the Tribunal to interpret s 8 or apply it in a novel circumstance and therefore that application was denied as well.
A different conclusion was reached for the remaining three proposed submissions. Based on the Tribunal specifically identifying the need to have full regard to the social context of Indigenous people in child welfare, the first two submissions concerned the social context underlying the complaint. West Coast LEAF had a unique and helpful perspective to bring to the Tribunal established through their demonstrable expertise in equality.
The application of West Coast LEAF to intervene was granted as follows: it had leave to make oral submissions during the opening, not to exceed 10 minutes; it had leave to file written submissions at the close of the hearing; the scope of the submissions was limited to the issues identified above; and it did not have standing to take part in any procedural matters before the Tribunal without leave.