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Canada renews its legal battle against Indigenous Children and Families

Today the Government of Canada has once again betrayed its commitment to reconciliation. Less than one month after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on all Canadians to honour the survivors of residential schools along with their families and communities, his government has renewed its legal battle against Indigenous children and families who were harmed by Canada’s broken child welfare system—the children and families of residential school survivors.

On September 29, 2021, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal order for compensation to children and families for the harms they endured through Canada’s discriminatory child welfare funding policies. Today, Canada has appealed the Federal Court’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Reform of Indigenous child and family services is critical, but providing compensation to the Indigenous children and families people who endured a broken system is also necessary. The Indigenous Child & Family Services Directors, who represent BC’s Delegated Aboriginal Agencies, are encouraged by the Government of Canada’s commitment to sit down with the First Nations Caring Society of Canada to develop a compensation package by the end of 2021.

“We are hopeful that a fair settlement can be reached, but we will not settle for any less than our children and families deserve,” says Mary Teegee, chair of the Indigenous Child & Family Services Directors and a board member at the First Nations Caring Society.

For decades Delegated Aboriginal Agencies in British Columbia have delivered support and services to Indigenous children, youth and families with less funding and fewer resources than have been available to non-Indigenous children, youth and families. Despite this discriminatory funding policy, Delegated Aboriginal Agencies have and continue to pour their hearts into supporting Indigenous children, youth and families to overcome the intergenerational impacts of residential schools and colonial child welfare policies.

When the Final Report of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission was released, Trudeau promised that: “Moving forward, one of our goals is to help lift this burden from your shoulders, from those of your families, and from your communities. It is to accept fully our responsibilities—and our failings—as a government and a nation.”

The Indigenous Child & Family Services Directors call on the Trudeau government to fulfill that promise by finally and fully complying with the CHRT orders and by withdrawing its application to the Supreme Court of Canada.