These agreements will provide $15.7 billion (20. billion Canadian dollars) for hundreds of thousands First Nations children who were removed or neglected by their families. An additional $15.7 billion will be used to reform the system in the next five years.
These agreements were reached almost 15 years ago, when the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society raised a human rights complaint.
Canadian Human Rights Tribunal repeatedly found that child and family services discriminated against First Nations kids, partly due to under-funding of services on reserves. These children were taken from their homes to be able to access the services.
Canada is also fighting a class action lawsuit on behalf First Nations children. The compensation agreement seeks resolution.
David Lametti, Justice Minister said Tuesday that the government will cease its appeals when the agreements are in place.
The reform agreement includes $1,966.50 ($2,500 Canadian Dollars) in preventive care for each child and support for foster children who are older than 18.
Cindy Blackstock, executive director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, stated that funding that is geared towards reform and preventive services will begin flowing in April. But it may not address the deep-rooted issues facing First Nation communities.
She told Reuters that she sees it as words on paper. “I see victory when I can walk into the community and a child can say to me, My life is better today than it was yesterday. These words don’t change children’s lives unless they are implemented.
David Sterns, the lawyer representing First Nations children, said at a news conference that this settlement would be Canada’s largest class-action settlement.
“The magnitude of this settlement can be attributed to one and only one reason. He said that the extent of the harm done to class members is staggering.
At the news conference, Patty Hajdu, Indigenous Services Minister, pledged to end discrimination against First Nations kids, who are too often placed in foster care across Canada.
She said that Canada’s decisions and actions had caused harm to First Nations children, families, communities and families. “Discrimination caused intergenerational damage and losses. These losses are irreversible. However, I believe that healing is possible.