Billion-dollar deal to indemnify Indigenous children estranged from their family in Canada


Canada announced this Tuesday (4) having closed two agreements totaling US$ 31.5 billion to compensate children from the so-called First Nations indigenous people who were taken from their families and placed in the social assistance system. The government also promised to reform the system that took them out of their homes and deprived them of the services they needed.

Half of the amount could reach hundreds of thousands of indigenous children, while the other part will be applied to changes in the system, which are expected to take place over the next five years.

The agreement is consolidated after nearly 15 years since the First Nations Child and Family Support Society filed a complaint about the case.

The Canadian Court of Human Rights found that child and family services are repeatedly discriminatory against Indigenous people, in part due to underfunding of services on reserves, so children have been removed from their homes and reserves to access them.

The government admitted its systems were discriminatory — before the deal, federal administrations repeatedly fought against orders to pay damages and finance reforms, including an appeal filed last year.

The country is also the target of a collective action, on behalf of First Nations children, which the compensation agreement seeks to resolve. Justice Minister David Lametti said on Tuesday that the government will apply its resources as soon as the deals are finalized in the coming months.

Funding for the reform and creation of preventive services is expected to begin in April, but it may not solve deep-rooted problems, says Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Support Society.

“I see it as words on paper,” she told Reuters. “I judge victory when I can enter a community and a child is able to tell me, ‘My life is better than it was yesterday.’ Nothing in those words really changes children’s lives until something is implemented.”

Attorney David Sterns, who represents aggrieved indigenous families, told a news conference that this would be the largest class-action agreement in Canadian history. “The enormity of this agreement is due to one reason and one reason only: the extent of the damage inflicted.”

At the press conference, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu vowed to end discrimination against First Nations children, who are over-represented in foster homes across Canada.

“The country’s decision and actions have harmed First Nations children, families and communities,” he said. “Discrimination has caused damage and loss between generations. These losses are not reversible. But I believe a cure is possible.”


You May Also Like

Recommended for you

Immediate Peak