THUNDER BAY – Updated – In a final decision, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ordered the Canadian Government to pay $2 billion in damages which is the maximum allowed under law to Indigenous children, parents, and grandparents who were living on-reserve and who the Tribunal says had their rights violated by the federal government.
Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society says “The Tribunal’s finding that Canada willfully and recklessly discriminated against First Nations children demonstrates how little Canada learned from the residential school and the 60’s scoop apologies and class actions”.
“They knew better and did not do better resulting in tragedy for another generation of First Nations children, families and Nations.”
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Walter Naveau has issued the following statement in response to today’s ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordering the Government of Canada to pay compensation to First Nation children, youth and families:
“The Tribunal’s ruling that Canada willfully and recklessly discriminated against First Nations children validates the rights of Indigenous youth from coast to coast to coast. It is significant that the Tribunal ordered the government to pay $40,000 to each child, parent and grandparent the maximum allowed under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The federal government is accountable for failing to provide First Nations with the same level of child welfare services as the rest of Canada. We urge the government to acknowledge and accept this decision and fulfil their obligation to come to the table.”
Today’s ruling is the latest in a landmark case filed in 2007 by the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations. It follows a 2016 ruling that the government discriminated against First Nations children by under-funding on-reserve child welfare services.
The ruling covers all First Nations children in the on-reserve child welfare system from January 2006 until a date to be determined by the Tribunal.
NDP MP Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay) and candidates Chief Rudy Turtle (Kenora, ON) and former Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum (Thunder Bay—Superior North) called today’s ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal a searing indictment of Liberal and Conservative governments’ failure to make life better for Indigenous children.
“This ruling shows just how badly both Justin Trudeau and Conservatives have failed Indigenous children in this country,” said Angus. “The Tribunal found that the government acted completely recklessly. One decision and four compliance orders later, and the government is still trying to run away from its responsibilities.”
The tribunal ordered the government to pay compensation to First Nations children apprehended by child and family services agencies, as well as their families.
“Justin Trudeau and the Conservatives have spent millions on lawyers to fight against the rights of First Nation children and their families,” said Turtle, the chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation. “The Tribunal ruled years ago that the government’s policies were discriminatory against Indigenous people and violated our human rights. Justin Trudeau should listen to the Assembly of First Nations and accept this decision. Our children have suffered, and they need to make this right.”
“We are the only party serious about a new relationship with Indigenous people,” said Achneepineskum. “We will honour the call for a Spirit Bear Plan to end inequalities in service that Indigenous children face in this country. It’s time for a New Deal.”