The Federal Government Picked a Fight With First Nations Kids. Three Years and Millions in Legal Fees Later, They Lost.

‘Canada’s conduct was willful and reckless’, Human Rights Tribunal sasy as it awards First Nations kids maximum compensation

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The federal government lost its three-year long battle before Canada’s Human Rights Tribunal to avoid compensating Indigenous families and youth for discrimination in Canada’s child welfare system.

F. N. Caring Society@CaringSociety

BREAKING: Another HUGE win for First Nations kids! The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ordered the Canadian gov’t to pay compensation to First Nations children, youth & families harmed by the child welfare system. Full ruling: http://fncaringsociety.com/sites/default/files/2019_chrt_39.pdf 

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The fee is to go towards compensating Indigenous families and youth harmed by the discrimination in Canada’s child welfare system or who were denied services owing to the discriminatory implementation of Jordan’s Principle.

Jordan’s principle, among other things, obligates the government to provide substantively equal access to housing, health and other services to Indigenous children and to safeguard the interests of children.

In its ruling, the tribunal found “Canada’s conduct was willful and reckless resulting in what we have referred to as a worst-case scenario under our Act.”

Cindy Blackstock

CDN Human Rights Tribunal finds Canada “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated v. First Nations children in a “worst case scenario” Awards maximum damages. Read the ruling: http://fncaringsociety.com/sites/default/files/2019_chrt_39.pdf 
Summary of the ruling: http://fncaringsociety.com/publications/victory-first-nations-children-and-families-tribunal-orders-compensation-2019-chrt-39 
More info: http://fncaringsociety.com/i-am-witness 

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The federal government’s legal battle has a lengthy history.

Soon after Trudeau’s Liberals formed government, the Tribunal issued a ruling that the federal government’s chronic under-funding of First Nations children on reserves was discriminatory, with 38% less being spent on kids on reserve compared to children in other communities across Canada.

The tribunal said funding for First Nations children needs to be equalized in comparison to kids elsewhere in Canada.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society which initially filed the human rights complaint, estimated compensation to First Nations kids could amount to nearly $1.7 billion.

Jorge Barrera

NEW: Ottawa must pay tens of thousands of dollars to every First Nations child who was placed in the on-reserve child welfare system, following a Friday ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that also provides compensation to some of their parents and grandparents.

Blackstock says the federal government’s full legal costs between 2016 and 2019 are not known because the government hasn’t released that information.

“It was at least 12 million as of 2016,” Blackstock told PressProgress, referring to the 9-year-long legal battle with Harper government over her initial complaint between 2007 and 2016.

In 2017, the Liberal government decided to fight the Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling, arguing it can’t force the government to give equal funding to Indigenous kids.

In December 2017, former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould disclosed that the Liberal government spent over $800,000 in lawyer’s fees between 2016-2017 fighting the Human Rights Tribunal’s 2016 ruling to implement Jordan’s Principle.

That amount is likely larger today. MORE

Bill C-92’s Indigenous child welfare act risks continuing the status quo


Pam Palmater: There are many problems with Bill C-92, but the main problem is it does not deliver any of what was promised by the federal government.

Bill C-92, An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families, has been heralded as a “historic turning point,” an “important first step,” a “major milestone” along with other similarly over-used and under-impressive political phrases to describe yet another top-down initiative from the federal government. While the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde (AFN) claimed that this legislation was “co-drafted” by the AFN and the federal government, that was not the case. In fact, Dr. Cindy Blackstock confirmed that First Nations did not co-draft the legislation and First Nations were not even permitted to see the second draft before it was tabled. This should be no surprise as Justice Canada does not co-draft legislation with anyone other than the French and English legislative drafters at Justice Canada — this is their long-standing practice. Bill C-92 content is glaring evidence that First Nation experts in child welfare did not hold the pen on this bill.

There are many problems with this bill, but the main problem is it does not deliver any of what was promised by the federal government. Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government promised to address the “humanitarian crisis” through federal legislation that fully recognized First Nation jurisdiction in relation to child welfare; that would provide statutory funding; and would eliminate the over-representation of First Nation children in care. If this bill is not substantially amended before it is passed, it will not accomplish any of those important goals. Ultimately, it will be our children and our families on the ground — in our communities — that will pay the biggest price. The fact that the AFN is promoting this bill so strenuously, without regard for the numerous and serious concerns raised by First Nation leaders, lawyers, academics and child welfare experts, shows how disconnected they are to the crisis at hand.

Despite the many issues raised by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and others, the AFN supports this bill as do the Métis National Council (MNC) and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK). While I also have numerous, detailed concerns with the wording, structure and content of this bill, they are too many to include in this blog. What follows is a general overview of my concerns from a First Nation perspective. MORE