By Ruthie DiTucci
The Canadian human rights tribunal ruling has ordered the government of Canada to compensate indigenous children and families in foster care for discrimination. This news comes on the heels of children’s graves found underneath where Canadian schools stood.
In 2015, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled the the Canadian federal government gave less money to child and family services of indigeous people compared to non-indigenous people. That drove even more indigenous children into foster care.
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Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister appealed the tribunal’s 2019 ruling. That ruling ordered the Canadian government to pay each affected child C$40,000 ($23,100), the maximum allowed under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The tribunal also said that with some exceptions some parents and grandparents of these indigenous children would also be eligible for compensation.
Justice Paul Favel of Canada’s Federal Court refused the government’s appeal and asked the two parties to continue negotiating until they came to a resolution.
In his quest for a resolution, Favel referred to an indigenous parable about a man who sits beside a trail for so long that it grows over and he loses his way.
The ruling will cost the Canadian federal government billions of dollars.
In the past, Trudeau’s government litigated that although the human rights tribunal was correct in its findings of discrimination in the system, exaggerated when it suggested that the Canadian government should pay any type of reparations.
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The executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, Cindy Blackstock originally brought the original complaint. She rejoiced at the ruling, referring to it as “a complete rejection of all the government’s spurious arguments, and a complete win for kids.”
The Canadian government’s legal battles with indigenous people have come under increased scrutiny. It was especially scrutinized when hundreds of unmarked graves were discovered under the land under which schools once stood.
Canada’s residential school system separated children from their families until as late as 1966 and forcibly rehomed them in boarding schools where they were malnourished, beaten and sexually abused in what the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission of 2015 called “cultural genocide”.