September 29 (Reuters) – The Federal Court of Canada on Wednesday upheld a human rights tribunal ruling ordering the Canadian government to compensate Indigenous children and families in foster care for being discriminated against.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in 2016 that the federal government allocated less funding for child and family services for Indigenous peoples than for non-Indigenous people, pushing more Indigenous children into families. reception.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government appealed the court’s follow-up order in 2019 requiring Ottawa to pay C $ 40,000 ($ 31,500) to each affected child, the maximum allowed under the Canada Act. human rights. The court also said that with few exceptions, the children’s parents or grandparents would also be eligible for compensation.
The court’s decision could cost the federal government billions of dollars.
Federal Court Judge Paul Favel dismissed the government’s appeal and urged both sides to continue negotiations.
“The parties must decide whether they will continue to sit by the side of the path or move forward in this spirit of reconciliation,” Favel wrote, referring to a native parable about a man sitting at the edge of a path so long as it develops and loses its way.
The Trudeau government could appeal the court ruling. His government has argued in the past that although the human rights tribunal was correct in finding discrimination in the system, it has overstepped the bounds in ordering compensation.
The government is reviewing the decision and more information “will be forthcoming,” Marc Miller, Minister of Native Services, said in an emailed statement.
“Canada remains committed to compensating First Nations children who have been removed from their families and communities,” he added.
Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society that filed the original complaint, said the decision was “a complete rejection of all the government’s spurious arguments and a total victory for the children.”
The Canadian government’s legal battles with Indigenous peoples have come under scrutiny following the discovery of hundreds of anonymous graves at the sites of former residential schools.
Until recently, in 1996, Canada’s residential school system separated children from their families and sent them to residential schools where they were malnourished, beaten and sexually assaulted in what the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called the “cultural genocide” in 2015.
($ 1 = Canadian dollar 1.27)
Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver and Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Richard Pullin and Peter Cooney
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