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Federal Court decision a step towards justice for First Nations children and families

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Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe speaks at the 2023 Fall Assembly in Aamjiwnaang First Nation. – Photo by Ryan Peplinskie

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (October 25, 2023) – Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe commends the recent Federal Court approval of the $23.4 billion settlement agreement for First Nations children, youth, and families impacted by the federal government’s discriminatory funding of child welfare services.

“Money can’t undo the harm that has been caused by this systemic discrimination; however, financial restitution is the only compensation Canada can provide. This settlement agreement is a step towards justice for First Nations children and families,” states Grand Council Chief Niganobe.

The recent Federal Court approval is the latest decision in a historic human rights case filed in 2007 by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations.

In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) found the federal government willfully and recklessly discriminating against First Nations through the inequitable funding of child and family services and through failure to fully implement Jordan’s Principle. Canada was immediately ordered to cease its discriminatory conduct.

“The Anishinabek Nation’s approach to preventing this kind of discrimination is embedded within the organization,” says Anishinabek Nation Children’s Commissioner Duke Peltier. “We’ve been entrusted to ensure we raise our children in the proper way — together with our families and communities.”

In September 2019, the CHRT ordered Canada to provide $40,000 in compensation to all First Nations children who were unnecessarily placed into out-of-home care from January 1, 2006, to a date that is to be determined by the CHRT. Parents or guardians of these children could also be eligible for compensation.

In addition to the $23.4 billion settlement agreement for compensation, the Government of Canada also agreed to provide an additional $20 billion for “long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program and a renewed approach to Jordan’s Principle, in order to eliminate discrimination and to provide reform to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to prevent the discrimination from recurring”.

“The Federal Court has approved a settlement agreement that First Nations children, youth, and families deserve,” adds Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “As a meaningful act of reconciliation, we look forward to a formal apology from the Prime Minister and remain hopeful that Canada will continue to work with First Nations in achieving generational healing through reformation.”

The Anishinabek Nation is a political advocate for 39 member First Nations across Ontario, representing approximately 65,000 citizens. The Anishinabek Nation is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact. 

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Associated Links:

CHRT Ruling
Summary of CHRT Ruling
CHRT Orders
I am a Witness: Tribunal Timeline & Documents
Draft Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being Law

 

 

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