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

Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre reopening October 5

The pool facility will have COVID-19 restrictions and protocols in place for patrons

In Our Valley: Adam Ferreira

Adam Ferreira is moving up in the hockey world, and he’s excited to see where it leads

Car in ditch after collision at Hwy 37 and Hirsch Creek Park

Two vehicles were involved, but only minor injuries were sustained by passengers

Kitimat Terry Fox Run goes virtual for 40th anniversary

Participants are encouraged to track their walk or run, or just get out within their social bubble

Air quality index raised to a ‘4’ in Kitimat

Wildfire smoke from the U.S. has been making its way north, affecting air quality

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

VIDEO: Tickets now available for the Second Annual Northern View Tyee Fishing Derby in Prince Rupert

Four great locations in Prince Rupert and Port Edward to buy your tickets

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read