By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – On Monday Dec. 13, 2021 Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller announced that the federal government was in talks to provide $40 billion dollars in compensation for the child welfare system’s negative affects on First Nations people in Canada.
The proposed settlement package will be used to settle a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) court order, two class action lawsuits, and to reform the current child welfare system.
In 2019, the CHRT ordered the government to pay $40,000 in damages to each First Nation child, along with their primary guardian, who experienced the on-reserve child welfare system since Jan 1, 2006.
The order also demanded that the feds pay $40,000 to each First Nation child, along with their primary guardian, who was denied access to services or forced to leave home to access services under Jordan’s Principle.
“We reflect on 30 years of failure and discrimination toward Indigenous children in the child welfare system,” Minister Miller said during the announcement.
“This is 30 years of the cost of failure, and that cost is high.”
Thus the negotiations have begun between Ottawa and the involved parties — which includes the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and child welfare advocates — on how the Federal Government can properly abide by the CHRT order.
Minister Miller said that the money would be split between compensation and reforming the child welfare system.
However, the money has not been finalized as the parties need to come to an agreement, which means that the $40B is completely dependent on the outcome of the negotiations — which are concerned with how far back the victims will be compensated, who will be qualified for compensation, and how they can opt-in.
“Our discussions remain progressive and productive,” said Minister Miller. “We must emphasize that there are more steps to be taken until the monies will be paid.”
“I want everyone to be conscious of the fact that there still are some very fragile discussions underway,” said Miller.
“Everyone needs to realize that in the last six weeks, despite the fact that there is no agreement as of this date, we’ve made progress that would have taken us years to be done in an adversarial process.”
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the CHRT might return to the federal government’s appeal of the court order — which was put on hold for negotiations.
AFN Chief Roseanne Archibald in a statement, “The magnitude of the proposed compensation package is a testament to how many of our children were ripped from their families and communities.”
“Money does not mean justice. However, it signals that we are on the healing path forward as we finalize long term reform to ensure we meet our vision of children surrounded by the love and care of their families, living in safe and vibrant communities.”
The government expects to provide further details on the outcome of the negotiations by December 31, 2021.
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