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More than money involved in $40 billion First Nations child welfare agreement

Mary Teegee of Carrier Sekani Family Services. Bill Phillips photo
Mary Teegee of Carrier Sekani Family Services.

It’s not just about the money.

This week’s agreement in principle that will see Ottawa contribute $40 billion towards Indigenous families harmed by Canada’s child welfare system, is also about ensuring that it never happens again, says the Carrier Sekani Family Services.

The non-binding agreement sets aside $20 billion for compensation and $20 billion for long-term reform of the on-reserve child welfare system.

The agreement in principle is confirmation to process the long-term reform of the First Nations child and family programs and the implementation of Jordan’s Principle to end the discrimination found by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) reiterates the fundamental tribunal order that Canada must ensure that discrimination ends for First Nations children, to ensure that systemic and foundational mechanisms are in place to prevent such discrimination from occurring again, and to compensate victims of this discrimination.

“We will continue to negotiate with the federal government to ensure that the discrimination ends and that it never happens again,” said Mary Teegee, Executive Director of Child and Family Services at CSFS and the BC Board Representative on the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society, in a news release. “We must ensure the full implementation of Jordan’s Principle and solidify reforms that end the injustices so that another generation of children aren’t harmed.”

She added that while $40 billion garners a lot of attention, the agreement is also about justice.

“We are all ethically bound to ensure that every child in this country, regardless of race or circumstance, is treated fairly and equitably,” said Teegee. “These negotiations will continue until justice is achieved and all children have what they require to live up to their full potential. In a first world country, demanding substantive equality shouldn’t be an issue that has to be fought in court.”

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