Canada and First Nations settle child welfare suit

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The Canadian government has announced an agreement in principle with the country’s First Nations to compensate Indigenous children and their families who were harmed by discrimination and underfunding of Canada’s child welfare system.

Approximately $20 billion will be used to pay compensation to victims, while the other $20 billion will be spent on reforming the system over five years.

"This is the largest settlement in Canadian history," said Marc Miller, Canada’s minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.

"But no amount of money can reverse the harms experienced by First Nations children," he said. "However, historic injustices require historic reparation."

Under the agreement, First Nations children living on reserve and in the Yukon who were removed from their homes between April 1, 1991, and March 31, 2022, will be compensated, along with their parents and caregivers.

"The federal child welfare program was broken from the start," said Cindy Woodhouse, a regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations.

"Most Canadians do not know this, that there was actually an incentive for child welfare agencies to remove children." she said.

"Canada’s decisions and actions harmed First Nations children, families and communities, said Canadian Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hadju.

"Discrimination caused intergenerational harm and loss, and those losses are not reversible. But I believe that healing is possible if we look face on at the harms caused, if we compensate, and most importantly, if we end the discrimination once and for all," she said.

According to Canadian broadcaster CTV, the preliminary agreement depends on the approval of Canada’s Federal Court and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Both have ruled that Ottawa discriminated against First Nations children.

The agreement in principle is expected to be finalized over the next few months.