AFN – Major Win for Indigenous Children and Families

Judge's Gavel

OTTAWA – POLITICS – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief RoseAnne Archibald acknowledges the victory for children and families with the Federal Court of Canada’s decision to uphold the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s (CHRT) compensation award to First Nations children and families that were apprehended under the First Nations child and family services program. The Federal Court also upheld the CHRT’s ruling regarding the application of Jordan’s Principle to all First Nations children who are recognized by their Nation as citizens, regardless of their Indian Act status or where they live. This is the result of a years-long dispute between Canada and the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

“This is justice in action for First Nations children and families, however, nothing can replace the childhoods and connections to languages, lands and loved ones stolen by Canada’s discrimination. We have repeatedly made a reasonable and fair request that Canada stop fighting our kids in court not only for the sake of truth and reconciliation but also for the healing path forward,” says National Chief RoseAnne Archibald.

In 2007, the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society launched a complaint at the CHRT alleging discrimination against First Nations children and families in Canada’s provision of First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) and Jordan’s Principle. In January 2016, the CHRT found that Canada was in fact discriminating against First Nations children and families in its provision and funding of the FNCFS Program and narrow application of Jordan’s Principle, and ordered Canada to completely reform its FNCFS Program and fully implement Jordan’s Principle.

In September 2019, the CHRT ordered Canada to pay compensation to eligible First Nations children and their parents and/or grandparents affected by Canada’s discrimination; in October 2019, Canada filed for a Judicial Review of this order. Then, in July 2020, the CHRT issued a ruling clarifying who is eligible for consideration under Jordan’s Principle, and confirmed this in November 2020; Canada filed for Judicial Review of this order in December 2020. The Honourable Justice Paul Favel heard arguments from the parties to the CHRT regarding the compensation order and Jordan’s Principle eligibility in June 2021.

This decision acknowledges the harm caused by Canada’s discrimination and affirms that First Nations children and families deserve justice. This monumental decision came one day before Orange Shirt Day, now also known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

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