Federal government to appeal CHRT decision to award compensation to First Nations children in care
- EFN Staff | October 08, 2019
The federal government is fighting a ruling to compensate Indigenous children. On September 6, 2019, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) decided that Indigenous children who were wrongly removed and denied essential services will be compensated by the government. A month later, the federal government submitted their appeal against the CHRT decision.
The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society expressed their disappointment in the government’s decision for an appeal.
“The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society is saddened that Canada has chosen to appeal this decision in Federal Court versus accepting responsibility for its wrongdoing and undertaking every measure to stop it and prevent its recurrence,” according to a statement on the FNCFCS website. “In the ruling, the “Panel [found] it [had] sufficient evidence to find that Canada’s conduct was wilful and reckless resulting in what [they] have referred to as a worst-case scenario under our Act” (p.73). This conduct has been linked to unnecessary family separations and child deaths and continues to delay justice for First Nations young people.”
The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society Executive Director Cindy Blackstock stated in a tweet, “I am so sad that the federal government filed its appeal on compensation to victims of Canada's discriminatory conduct the day of the annual memorial for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. My thoughts and prayers are with their spirits and their families…We are returning to court again so children and families get the compensation they deserve. Canada has spent well over 10 million in legal fees alone.”
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Bellegarde expressed his extreme disappointment with a released statement.
“This is beyond unacceptable. The Government of Canada is once again preparing to fight First Nations children in court. I’ve connected with Minister Seamus O’Regan to share my deep disappointment,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde in a media release. “The AFN will always stand up and fight for First Nations children and families. The CHRT panel found that the government racially discriminated against First Nations children in care in a willful and reckless manner. As a result, the CHRT ordered Canada to pay the maximum amount allowable under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The government could have addressed the broken system and the funding inequalities before, but they didn’t. To appeal this CHRT ruling, which was meant to provide a measure of justice for First Nations children in care, is hurtful and unjust.”
It is estimated that a minimum of 54,000 children and their families could have benefitted from this ruling. The CHRT has issued seven compliance orders against Canada since its original ruling in January 2016.