NationTalk: Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) is proud to stand alongside First Nations across the nation in celebrating a momentous milestone in the pursuit of social justice and reconciliation for First Nations children across Turtle Island.
“Since the days of the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood, First Nations leadership in Manitoba has been dedicated to this cause. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Elders Council, Women’s Council, and Knowledge Keepers have collaborated with our Chiefs, seeking social justice and healing initiatives for our children, families, and communities. They persistently address the impact of colonial government actions on our children and families,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick of the AMC.
AMC has championed regional advocacy efforts for the care and jurisdiction of First Nations children, families, and communities since the early 1980s, with key milestones such as the creation of on-reserve First Nations CFS authorities, signing the Framework Agreement Initiative in 1994 and signing the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry – Child Welfare Initiative leading to a province-wide CFS mandate for First Nations. We have been working with leadership and agencies to keep children in their Nations by lobbying for family enhancement and prevention resources. Unfortunately, Canada eliminated the Services To Families program from FNCFSA even though it is legislated in the Provincial CFS Act.
On July 26, 2023, the CHRT announced the approval of the Final Settlement Agreement, a significant step towards addressing historical injustices and discrimination. This landmark decision acknowledges the impacts of racist provincial CFS policies on First Nations and, most importantly, provides long-awaited compensation to First Nations children and families who experienced discrimination through the First Nations Child and Family Services Program and the limited application of Jordan’s Principle.
The Final Settlement Agreement, with a total value exceeding $23 billion, is the result of extensive negotiations and collaboration between the Government of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Moushoom and Trout Class Action plaintiffs, and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.
The AMC would like to extend its profound gratitude to all those who played a pivotal role in reaching this monumental settlement. We commend the unwavering dedication and tenacity of the AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse and the Representative Plaintiffs – Ashley Bach, Karen Osachoff, Melissa Walterson, Noah Buffalo-Jackson, Carolyn Buffalo, and Richard Jackson – whose courage and persistence have been crucial in advocating for the rights of our communities.
Furthermore, we recognize and appreciate the efforts of the Trout and Moushoom plaintiffs, as well as the former AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine and Dr. Cindy Blackstock, whose tireless pursuit of justice has been vital in achieving this significant milestone.
“The settlement, though unable to erase the historical injustices endured, marks a pivotal stride in recognizing the harm inflicted on First Nations, and fostering a more promising and fair future for First Nations children and families,” concluded Grand Chief Merrick.
The next step following the CHRT approval is presenting the Final Settlement Agreement to the Federal Court of Canada for approval. This is expected to take place in October 2023. Compensation to eligible First Nations children and families is anticipated to begin in 2024.
For more information, please contact:
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs