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

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

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Interior Health reported 43 new COVID-19 cases in the region Feb. 23, 2021 and no additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
43 new cases of COVID reported in Interior Health

No new deaths, Williams Lake outbreak over

Students participating in an outdoor education experience in the Golden area during COVID-19. (Meg Langley photo)
Outdoor education project takes Golden’s students into nature

The program offers a way for students to learn in nature and safe from COVID

Symptoms can persist for weeks and even months after contracting COVID-19. (Dave Logan/For Peninsula Daily News)
What is considered a COVID recovery: the Physicians of Golden explain

A recovery is better explained as being “non-infectious” according to Larsen Soles.

This year’s Pink Shirt Day event will be held virtually with the Breakfast in a Box. (Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs photo)
Pink Shirt Day 2021 kicks off with virtual event

“When you’re functioning from a place of kindness, there’s no way that bullying can exist.”

COVID-19 testing at the Vernon Health Services Unit. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
Two Vernon high schools exposed to COVID-19

Vernon Secondary and Seaton were sent home notices yesterday of exposure event

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

Summerland has received conditional approval for $6 million in federal funding to build a one-megawatt solar array to provide power to the community. (Stock photo)
Summerland council reaffirms solar project in 4-3 vote

Coun. Richard Barkwill had earlier written letters in opposition to initiative

Lake Country residents are warned about another rock slide on Pelmewash Parkway, Feb. 23, 2021. (Melanie Marie photo)
Rockslide on old Okanagan highway

Pelmewash Parkway once again littered with debris

Wade Dyck with Luna, a dog who went missing near the Chasm for 17 days following a rollover on Feb. 5. (Photo submitted).
Dog missing for 17 days through cold snap reunited with owner in northern B.C.

Family ecstatic to have the Pyrenees-Shepherd cross back home.

Most Read