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Federal Government Files For Judicial Review That Could Deny Compensation For First Nations Children

The government has spent millions fighting First Nations kids in court

The federal government is continuing its ongoing legal battle against a ruling that requires Ottawa to stop racially discriminating against First Nations children.

Last year, the federal government lost its multi-year battle to overturn a Human Rights Tribunal decision requiring the government to provide compensation to Indigenous families and youth for harm caused by discrimination in Canada’s child welfare system.

Soon after the 2015 election, the Tribunal found Canada’s funding for on-reserve Indigenous health and education services was about 38% lower than funding for non-Indigenous services. Rather than equalize funding and compensate those who were harmed, the government spent millions challenging the decision.

A November 2020 decision further expanded criteria for compensation — under Jordan’s Principle — to include:

  • Children registered or eligible to be registered under the Indian Act;
  • Children with parents or guardians registered under the Indian Act;
  • Children recognized by their community for the purposes of Jordan’s Principle;
  • Children who ordinarily reside on reserve.

The government’s application for review specifically takes issue with parts of the decision granting First Nations children recognized by their respective Nation eligibility for compensation, even if they themselves don’t have “Indian Act Status.”

In a news release, the government said it was applying for the judicial review because the Human Rights Tribunal’s decision was “clear overreach” and claimed the decision was “made without broad participation of First Nations communities.”

Indigenous Services Canada press release

Except those named in the government’s review application itself, whom are obligated to respond within ten days, include:

  • The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada
  • The Assembly of First Nations
  • The Chiefs of Ontario
  • The Nishnawbe Aski Nation and others

All of these organizations have been involved in the case for years.

A review of documents by APTN found the government likely spent up to $9 million on legal fees fighting the child welfare case as of late 2019.

Last year, Blackstock told PressProgress the government spent over $12 million on the decade-old legal battle between 2007 and 2016.

 

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