Current Problems

Call to Action # 3: Child Welfare (1-5)

Human rights tribunal approves revised First Nations child welfare deal

July 26, 2023

Compensation settlement

APTN News: The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) has approved a revised deal between the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Canada over compensation for thousands of First Nations children on reserve who were caught up in the child welfare system.

“The Tribunal finds that the revised First Nations Child and Family Services, Jordan’s Principle and Trout Class Settlement Agreement dated April 19, 2023, fully satisfies the Tribunal’s Compensation Orders,” said the ruling released Wednesday.

The ruling comes after the tribunal refused to approve a $20 billion deal between the two sides first announced on Jan. 1, 2022.

The massive agreement settles two class-action lawsuits dealing with First Nations child welfare, Jordan’s Principle and follows through on a compensation order issued by the tribunal in 2019.

But the deal was challenged by Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, one of the original complainants in the case against Canada, who said the final settlement agreement (FSA) didn’t adhere to the compensation order.

The CHRT ordered the federal government and AFN to revise the FSA because it didn’t pay every First Nation child and caregiver living on reserve $40,000 if they went through the child welfare system.

The CHRT ruled in 2016 that Canada discriminated against them for underfunding the agencies that were in charge of supporting them.

On Oct. 25, 2022, the CHRT, which had to approve the deal, ruled that the agreement wouldn’t compensate some of the people who should receive it.

“Denying entitlements once recognized in orders is an unfair and unjust outcome that the Tribunal cannot endorse,” said CHRT panel members Sophie Marchildon and Edward Lustig in the 2022 ruling.

The AFN and Canada then issued a revised deal worth $23 billion that includes all children.

Blackstock approved the new deal – and on Wednesday, so did the tribunal.

“It took great leadership for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Canada to collaborate and arrive at the previous historic Final Settlement Agreement (FSA),” said Wednesday’s ruling from the tribunal.

“It took even greater leadership from the AFN and Canada’s Ministers and their teams to receive the Tribunal’s criticism of some aspects of the FSA (for example, leaving out some of the victims/survivors already recognized by this Tribunal), consult the Chiefs-in-Assembly, bring the Caring Society back to the negotiation table.”

Read the interim ruling here:

Download (PDF, 257KB)