Carrier Sekani Family Services is hailing a recent Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision regarding the on-reserve child welfare system.
The ruling said the federal government willfully and recklessly discriminated against Indigenous children living on reserve by failing to provide funding for child and family services. It ordered Ottawa to provide compensation of up to $40,000 to First Nations children who were unnecessarily taken into care on or after Jan. 1, 2006. In addition, the order applies to parents or grandparents and children denied essential services.
Canada estimates more than 44,000 children were in care between 2006 and 2017. The Assembly of First nations say as many as 54,000 children could be eligible for compensation. The tribunal is also ordering compensation for parents or grandparents whose children were taken. Roughly $20,000, plus an additional $20,000 for every child taken into care.
“The ruling is good news, as it will benefit victims,” said Mary Teegee, Executive Director of Child and Family Services at Carrier Family Services. “This never should have gone back to court.”
The decision comes more than three years after an initial ruling there of discrimination by the federal government. In that decision, Ottawa was found not to have provided the funding non-Indigenous children received for child welfare services.
“At the end of the day, Justin Trudeau says relations with First Nations are good,” said Teegee. “But Ottawa will still take us to court regarding victims of discrimination?”
Meanwhile, Teegee says she is waiting on several other decisions from the tribunal surrounding Jordan’s Principle and other court case challenges, including a class action that is separate from this case.
“These are wrongs that have to be righted and we are hopeful that the other challenges before the courts will have a positive ruling,” said Teegee.
The federal government has 30 days to appeal the decision. Even if it appeals it must implement the decision unless it applies for, and is granted, a stay by the federal court.