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

Three arrested after Keremeos shooting that severely injured one man

The victim was transported by air ambulance to a regional hospital

UPDATE: One dead after motorcycle collision on Highway 97 near Peachland

The collision closed Highway 97 off-and-on throughout Sunday afternoon

Okanagan whisky lottery adds new twists

Winners of Okanagan Spirits’ Laird of Fintry lottery announced in four batches beginning Sept. 28

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

West Kelowna Warriors complete sweep of Vernon Vipers

Warriors edge Snakes 2-1 as Okanagan Cup BCHL exhibition tournament begins

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Public input sharpens vision of Oyama Ithmus Park

Proposed project to shape the long-term future of waterfront land in Lake Country

Most Read