First Nations child-welfare hearings wrap after week of arguments

First Nations child-welfare hearings wrap after week of arguments

OTTAWA — Lawyers wrapped up arguments today in a Federal Court case focused on how to compensate First Nations children unnecessarily taken from their families due to Canada’s discriminatory policies.

Ottawa challenged two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings — one that awarded $40,000 to each affected First Nations child and to their parents or grandparents, and the other that expanded the scope of Jordan’s Principle to children who live off-reserve or who are not registered under the Indian Act.

Jordan’s Principle is a rule that says governments must help a child in need before arguing about who is responsible for paying the bills.

Robert Frater, lawyer for the federal government, argued the tribunal’s compensation award was far too broad and sweeping, especially since it did not hear direct evidence of harms suffered, and that the tribunal overstepped its authority in widening Jordan’s Principle eligibility.

Lawyers for the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Assembly of First Nations and other Indigenous and human rights organizations argued the tribunal’s findings were sound and based on far too many well-documented and tragic instances of children being torn from their families.

Federal Court Justice Paul Favel did not specify when his decision will be delivered, except that it would be “at some point, sooner rather than later.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2021.


The Canadian Press