Canada signs C$20B compensation deal on First Nations child welfare

The Canadian government Monday signed a deal to pay C$20 billion (US$15.5 billion) in compensation to the children of First Nations Indigenous families over a human rights complaint that has been ongoing since 2007, according to local media.

The agreement was recorded as the largest such deal in Canadian history, the Canadian Press reported.

“… After three decades of advocacy and months of negotiations, I’m proud to say on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) that we have reached another historic milestone for our children and their families,” Cindy Woodhouse, the Manitoba regional chief at the AFN, said in a statement.

The deal — agreed between the government, the AFN, and plaintiffs — was formed to ensure jurisdictional squabbles over-paying for services for First Nations kids do not get in the way of those services being provided.

“The parties have agreed on a plan for settling compensation claims to recognize the families and people who have suffered tremendously through discriminatory and systemically racist child-welfare practices,” Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services said in an interview.

In January, the Canadian government announced that it has agreed to pay C$20 billion in compensation to the children of First Nations Indigenous families.

First Nations peoples are known as “one of the largest indigenous communities,” with Metis and Inuit Indians throughout Canada.

Legal process takes 15 years

The legal battle for Indigenous children, which has become the number one agenda item in the country after the unofficial graves of unnamed children were discovered in the gardens of church-run boarding schools across Canada in the past year, began in 2007.

A human rights complaint filed in 2007 by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society against the federal government in the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) alleged that the child welfare system was flawed and discriminated against Indigenous children, and the court delivered a judgment in 2016.

The CHRT ruled that the federal government discriminated against Indigenous children through underfunding in the child welfare system.

In 2019, the court ordered the federal government to pay up to C$40,000 to each child who was part of the domestic child welfare system from Jan. 1, 2006, along with their primary guardians.

The government and Indigenous groups have been negotiating since November 2021 after the federal government appealed the compensation decision.

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