Canada’s Indigenous Children to Receive Billions From Government

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A Canadian court has paved the way for Indigenous children, who were from their families and placed into state welfare, to receive billions of dollars in compensation.

In 2019, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Ottawa “willfully and recklessly” discriminated against Indigenous children living on reserves by failing to adequately fund child and family services. Many Indigenous children were subsequently placed into foster care and the tribunal ordered Ottawa to pay C$40,000 (approximately USD 31,000) to each child removed from their home.

More than half of all children in Ottawa’s foster care are Indigenous.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appealed the decision, but this month, Canada’s Federal Court sided with the tribunal.

“No one can seriously doubt that First Nations people are among the most disadvantaged and marginalized members of Canadian society,” Justice Paul Favel wrote in his decision. “The Tribunal was aware of this and reasonably attempted to remedy the discrimination while being attentive to the very different positions of the parties.”

In June, New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh filed a motion asking the federal government to dismiss Trudeau’s legal challenge. The motion passed unanimously in the House of Commons.

Three months later, Singh again criticized Trudeau for his administration’s unwillingness to compensate children.

“You can’t take a knee one day if you’re going to take Indigenous kids to court the next. That’s not leadership,” he said.

“This was a complete win for kids,” Cindy Blackstock, a First Nations activist who filed the original human rights complaint more than a decade ago, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “Now the question becomes, will the federal government finally put down its sword and stop fighting First Nations children and treat them equally?”

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