December 14, 2021

Federal Government Must Now Move Quickly to Develop Plan to Distribute Reparations: Grand Chief Daniels


ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — After two years of stalling and a court challenge of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s (CHRT) 2019 ruling in favour of compensation for First Nation children and families harmed by the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program, the federal government must now move quickly to ensure victims are compensated, Grand Chief Jerry Daniels announced today.

“As First Nation People have said repeatedly, no amount of money could ever compensate for the harm caused by Canada’s child welfare system and the legacy of colonialism in this country,” said Grand Chief Daniels. “However, it’s an important first step, and the federal government should have honoured the CHRT’s ruling when it was handed down. Instead, they chose to alienate victims further by challenging it in court. While I am pleased to learn that $40 billion has been set aside for compensation and reform, it’s now time for swift action to get reparations to victims. The clock is ticking.”

In September 2019, the CHRT ordered Canada to pay $40,000 to each First Nation child impacted by the on-reserve child welfare system since 2006. The federal government subsequently filed for a judicial review of the order in October 2019. On September 29, 2021, one day before National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Federal Court of Canada upheld the 2019 ruling.

Yesterday, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller announced that Canada is setting aside $40 billion for compensation and to commit the funds necessary to implement long-term reform.

While he commended this move, the Grand Chief noted that the CHRT also ordered the federal government to negotiate with the agencies that brought the initial human rights complaint forward in 2007 to determine the best independent process to distribute compensation.

“I urge the federal government to move quickly on its obligation to compensate victims and work with the First Nations Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations on a plan to distribute reparations to those who are entitled without further delay,” said Grand Chief Daniels. “Beyond that, there is still much work to be done on reform. We expect our partners in the federal government to collaborate with us on a nation-to-nation basis going forward, so we can ensure the needs of our people are met with full autonomy from federal and provincial governments.”

SCO has started the process of developing a framework for communities seeking to reclaim jurisdiction over child welfare since the passing of federal legislation respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. Read more about SCO’s Child and Family Services program here:

The Federal Court of Canada also upheld the CHRT’s 2020 order for the application of Jordan’s Principle to all First Nations children who are recognized by their First Nation government as citizens, regardless of their Indian Act status or where they live. Read more about SCO’s Jordan’s Principle Coordinator program here:

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The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 80,500 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

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