Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, to sign a protocol agreement to advance First Nations’ exercise of jurisdiction over child and family services. Indigenous children and their relatives harmed by chronic underfunding of child-welfare services on reserves are a step closer to resolving claims for compensation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Children harmed by on-reserve child welfare a step closer to compensation

The progress is being welcomed by both the federal government and the AFN

Indigenous children and their relatives harmed by chronic underfunding of child-welfare services on reserves are a step closer to resolving claims for compensation.

The federal government has agreed to certify the claims put forward by the Assembly of First Nations and counsel for a national class action suit.

Consenting to certification is a step forward in negotiating a compensation settlement.

All three parties appeared in Federal Court Thursday and agreed to start mediation as soon as possible once a mutually acceptable mediator is appointed.

The progress is being welcomed by both the federal government and the AFN.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the government’s decision to work with the assembly and its allies “in addressing this tragedy is an important step.”

“Systemic discrimination against First Nations children is abhorrent.” Bellegarde said in a statement.

“It is crucial that Canada act in good faith in these upcoming negotiations, provide fair compensation to all those who suffered harm, and implement real change. Only then can we bring closure to this sad chapter in our history.”

In a joint statement, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Justice Minister David Lametti said the federal government’s commitment to a “prompt resolution” of the claims is in line with system-wide reforms to Indigenous child welfare that are already underway.

“Discussions will continue in the spirit of collaboration in order to achieve a fair, equitable and comprehensive resolution to compensation — a resolution that will prioritize the safety and well-being of First Nations children,” the ministers said.

The negotiations follow a 2016 ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that found the federal government discriminated against First Nations children by underfunding the child-welfare system on reserves.

That meant that children served by the federally backed system were more likely to be taken into foster care and separated from their families, for instance, than children covered by provincial systems.

Last September, the tribunal ordered the government to pay $40,000 to each child harmed by the on-reserve child welfare system since 2006 and $20,000 to parents or grandparents whose children were taken from them.

The government has estimated the cost of complying with that order would be as much as $8 billion and has filed for judicial review of the order.

The government has indicated that it would prefer to negotiate a settlement through the class-action suit.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COLUMN: The importance of treating yourself gently

‘Six months into this pandemic and I am starting to struggle. I am starting to be weary’

Sylvan Lake gathers to honour the fallen at annual Flags of Remembrance ceremony

The smaller-than-normal ceremony starts the “season of remembrance” in Sylvan Lake

Central zone has 20 active cases of COVID-19

Province identified 143 new cases across Alberta on Wednesday

Highlights from the Town of Castor Sept. 14th meeting of council

Town of Castor administration has started the process of modernizing the Airport Bylaw

COVID-19: Active cases in central zone up Tuesday

Central zone active cases remains lowest of all zones

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Alberta politicians reject throne speech

Premier Kenney disapointed with lack of support for Alberta energy

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

Searchers find bodies in Jasper National Park, remains believed to be missing couple

RCMP along with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner continue to investigate

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

Missionary plane dedicated at Ponoka, Lacombe airports

MiracleAir flies humanitarian missions to Nicaragua

Most Read