VIDEO: More First Nations kids deserve child-welfare compensation, federal lawyers argue

Government had been ordered to pay $40K for each child taken away from parents after 2006

The federal Liberals say they are appealing a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling on First Nations children because it limits the families that could receive compensation to those affected in the last 13 years.

That appeal is underway Monday in Ottawa, where Justice Department lawyers are asking the Federal Court for a stay of the tribunal’s September order that the federal government must compensate First Nations families that were wrongly split apart by the child-welfare system.

The ruling said the federal government “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated against Indigenous children living on-reserve by not properly funding child and family services. As a result, children were sent away from their homes, families and reserves because if they lived off-reserve, they would be covered by better-funded provincial systems.

Justice Department lawyer Robert Frater argued the tribunal’s judgement imposes a one-size-fits-all solution to an issue of systemic discrimination against Indigenous children and will not compensate all possible victims.

Frater noted the tribunal’s compensation order includes victims and their families dating back to 2006, while there are victims of the Indigenous child-welfare system’s being underfunded from as far back as 1991.

The government does favour compensation but it wants to find a more inclusive process, Frater told the Federal Court.

“Canada is committed to remedying the injustices of the past, but it has to be done in a fair and equitable way.”

Instead, a settlement in a separate class-action case brought earlier this year will be pursued, the government said in a statement this morning from Marc Miller, the Montreal MP appointed last week as minister of Indigenous services, and Justice Minister David Lametti.

Xavier Moushoom, an Algonquin man from Quebec, was moved in and out of 14 foster homes from the time he was nine until he was 18. His lawsuit claims the federal government knew it was inadequately funding child-welfare services for children on reserves and did nothing about it.

Another man, Jeremy Measwasige, was added as a new plaintiff when the original statement of claim was amended to increase the lawsuit’s claim from $3 billion to $6 billion. The 25-year-old from Nova Scotia was born with cerebral palsy, spinal curvature and autism. He battled the federal government to get adequate funding for essential services.

Miller and Lametti said that Canada “agrees it must fairly and equitably compensate First Nations children who have been negatively impacted by child and family policies. What we must do is seek an approach that will provide a fair and equitable resolution.”

“To that end, we will work with plaintiff’s counsel with the goal of moving forward with certification of the Xavier Moushoom and Jeremy Measwasige v. The Attorney General of Canada class action,” they said.

The class-action case was filed last March. Federal lawyers began negotiating with the plaintiffs’ lawyers earlier this fall.

The human-rights tribunal order came in September, requiring the government to pay $40,000 for each First Nations child who was inappropriately taken away from his or her parents after 2006, as well as similar compensation to parents or grandparents who had their kids inappropriately removed, and for children who were denied essential services.

The Liberals announced during the election campaign they intended to appeal the ruling. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there wasn’t time for proper consultations and planning on how to distribute the money by a December deadline.

The Assembly of First Nations estimated that 54,000 children and their parents could be eligible for payments but which families would be covered had to be worked out in negotiation between the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, which brought the original human-rights complaint forward in 2007.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Port Hardy Mounties help First Nation chief build smokehouse

‘We have great maya’xala for all the community members, in each of the communities…’

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Access to remote Side Bay beach up in the bureaucratic air

Roads to the pristine north west coast Vancouver Island beach at risk of being deactivated

Mount Cain planning a modified winter season for north Island ski and snowboarders

Skiing is a COVID-friendly activity, but shared public spaces require adjustment

Remote B.C. tourism lodge staffed for coastal clean up instead of wilderness tours

The Great Bear Rainforest is home to exotic wildlife — and international trash

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read