Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
September 9, 2020
(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomes Canada’s agreement to the certification of a national class action involving underfunding of First Nations children and families in child welfare, including Jordan’s Principle persons.
“Systemic discrimination against First Nations children is abhorrent. Canada’s decision to work with the AFN and its allies in addressing this tragedy is an important step,” said National Chief Bellegarde.
“It is crucial that Canada act in good faith in these upcoming negotiations, provide fair compensation to all those who suffered harm, and implement real change. Only then can we bring closure to this sad chapter in our history.”
The Parties to the class action, including the AFN, and Canada’s legal teams appeared on September 3, before a special sitting of the Federal Court of Canada to report on these important steps forward. The Parties and Canada have also agreed to mediation and to try to resolve through negotiation the claims in the class action. The negotiations will also seek a resolution to outstanding matters now before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) involving similar facts and issues.
In addition to those individuals adversely discriminated against by Canada’s child welfare program, Canada’s consent to certification covers a class of Jordan’s Principle persons beginning in 2007, and found to have been the subject of discrimination by the CHRT. The AFN and others will continue to advance a class action involving Jordan’s Principle persons that predates 2007. Potential claimants will continue to be updated on next steps.
Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart holds the Child Welfare portfolio for the AFN.
“First Nations children are the centre of our cultures and families. It is crucial that First Nations have the infrastructure and social services necessary to raise healthy young people. Canada needs to step up and come to the table, in good faith, to resolve this long-standing tragic issue,” Regional Chief Hart said.