Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Canada has reached agreements in principle to compensate indigenous children who have been discriminated against and placed in the welfare system, the government announced, after indigenous advocates waged a years-long battle for justice and reform.

In a statement On Tuesday, the federal government said $ 15.75 billion (20 billion Canadian dollars) would be allocated to First Nations children removed from their homes, as well as those who did not receive or experienced delays in access to services.

Another $ 15.75 billion ($ 20 billion) will go to long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program, including funding for young adults aging out of the child welfare system.

“For too long, the Government of Canada has not adequately funded or supported the well-being of First Nations families and children,” Canada’s Home Secretary Patty Hajdu said in a statement.

“First Nations children thrive when they can stay with their families, in their communities, surrounded by their culture. No amount of compensation can make up for the trauma that people have experienced, but these agreements in principle acknowledge to survivors and their families the damage and pain caused by the discrimination in funding and services. ”

The announcement comes after indigenous community advocates fight to get Canada to abide by a 2016 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that the federal government discriminated against indigenous peoples in providing child and family services.

This discrimination has pushed more indigenous children into foster care, the tribunal said, ordering Canada to pay each affected child $ 23,114 ($ 40,000 Canadian dollars), the maximum allowed under Canadian Human Rights Act.

According to census data, just over 52 percent of children in foster care in 2016 were indigenous, while indigenous children made up only 7.7 percent of the country’s total child population.

Canada has acknowledged that its systems have been discriminatory, but has repeatedly opposed orders for it to pay compensation and fight reforms, including in a federal court case it lost last year and sought to appeal, and an attempt it made in the past year to reverse another tribunal decision ordering funding of capital. assets and preventive services.

The reform agreement announced Tuesday includes $ 1,965 (2,500 Canadian dollars) in preventive care per child and provision for children in foster care to receive support after the age of 18.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society, which brought the complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, welcomed the principle agreements on Tuesday as an “important first step”.

“There is an indisputable need for real change. This agreement in principle, although an important first step, is a non-binding agreement, “Blackstock said in a statement (PDF), insists that a binding agreement be finalized.

“It is only when that binding agreement has been written and signed by the Government of Canada and acted upon with great haste that First Nations children, youth and families will have some assurance that real change is coming.”

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), an umbrella group representing 49 First Nations in the province of Ontario, also welcomed the agreements in principle and said a final settlement is expected to be completed by the end of March.

“What has been achieved deserves to be celebrated and will strengthen our nations’ ability to care for our children and families,” said Bobby Narcisse, deputy chief executive of the NAN. statement.

“The agreement of principle reached today is based on the recognition that the federal government has let our youth and families down for decades, but that Canada has worked with First Nations and negotiated a healing path forward. This journey of long-term reform will be led by First Nations and based on our inherent jurisdiction to care for our children. ”

Canada continues to struggle with its history of colonialism and continued policies pursued by indigenous peoples, responsible for 4.9 percent of the country’s total population in 2016.

During the past year, hundreds of unmarked graves of indigenous children were uncovered at the sites of former “residential schools,” which the Canadian government has forced more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children to attend for decades.

Founded by the state and run by various churches, especially the Roman Catholic Church, the forced assimilation institutions was full of psychological, physical and sexual abuse – and fueled lasting, intergenerational trauma.

The Canadian government last month promise to release previously unknown residential school records, as insisted by survivors and their communities answers and liability for the abuses that took place.

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