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

Rossland resident Aerin Bowers completes 19-km swim along Christina Lake

Bowers said her dad inspired her to complete the epic adventure

Two-way race in NDP nomination for Boundary-Similkameen, party confirms

The results of the online contest will likely be announced Thursday afternoon, Sept. 24

Veintimilla to run as Liberal candidate

The Oliver councillor will run for MLA of the Boundary-Similkameen riding

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Attorney General of Canada defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

Refresh of Liberal government’s agenda comes amid new looming COVID-19 crisis

Lockdowns saw fed spending soar to historic levels in effort to offset pandemic’s blow to Canadians’ livelihoods

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Most Read