How did we get here?

Children hold a special place in Aboriginal cultures (…) They must be protected from harm (…). They bring a purity of vision to the world that can teach their elders. They carry within them the gifts that manifest themselves as they become teachers, mothers, hunters, councillors, artisans and visionaries. They renew the strength of the family, clan and village and make the elders young again with their joyful presence.

Failure to care for these gifts bestowed on the family, and to protect children from the betrayal of others, is perhaps the greatest shame that can befall an Aboriginal family. It is a shame that countless Aboriginal families have experienced, some of them repeatedly over generations. (Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Gathering strength vol. 3, p. 21).

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

After many years of hard-fought legal battles, on January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (“Tribunal”) released its decision in First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada et al. v. Attorney General of Canada (for the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), 2016 CHRT 2. Cindy Blackstock and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society Canada successfully proved that Canada discriminated against First Nations children and families living on reserve and in the Yukon by denying them equal child and family services and/or differentiating adversely in the provision of child and family services, as opposed to how non-Indigenous children and family are treated. Further, the Tribunal found that Canada had misinterpreted Jordan’s Principle and, as a result, ignored a large number of requests for health or social services made by First Nations children and families.

In subsequent decisions, the Tribunal found that, despite its order for Canada to broaden its interpretation and application of Jordan’s Principle, Canada had continued to offer similar policies and practices to those that were found to be discriminatory towards First Nations children and families. To access those decisions, please click on:

 

The Human Rights Tribunal Lawsuit and the Class Action Lawsuit: What is the Difference?

 

Class Action

Additionally, a class action has been filed in Federal Court by Sotos Class Actions, Kugler Kandestin LLP and Miller Titerle + Company on behalf of First Nations children across Canada who have been the victims of the same discriminatory underfunding of First Nations child and family services by Canada. The class action seeks to obtain all compensation from Canada for those children and families than the Tribunal was allowed to award, as well as compensation for those First Nations children who faced discrimination between 1991-2006.

Canada indicated that it would consent to having the class action “certified” by the Court, which would mean that the class action could proceed without delay.

Timeline

2007
2007
2013
2013
2014
2014
2016
2016
2017
2017
2018
2018
2019
2019

2007

  • On February 27, 2007, the Assembly of First Nations of Canada (“AFN”) and the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society (“Caring Society”) filed a human rights complaint against the the Government of Canada, through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, alleging that it was discriminating against First Nations children on the basis of race and national and/or ethnic origin contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

2013

  • In February 2013, hearings before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (“Tribunal”) began.

2014

  • In October 2014, hearings before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ended.

2016

  • On January 26, 2016, the Tribunal ruled in favour of the AFN and Caring Society, finding that Canada had discriminated against First Nations children and families.
  • On February 22, 2016, the Minister of Justice announced that Canada would not be seeking a judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision.
  • On April 26, 2016, the Tribunal issued a non-compliance order against Canada for continuing its discriminatory practices.
  • On September 14, 2016, the Tribunal issued a second non-compliance order against Canada for continuing its discriminatory practices.

2017

  • On March 29, 2017, the Tribunal issued a third non-compliance order against Canada for continuing its discriminatory practices.
  • On May 26, 2017, the Tribunal issued a fourth non-compliance order against Canada for continuing its discriminatory practices.

2018

  • On February 1, 2018, the Tribunal issued a fifth non-compliance order against Canada for continuing its discriminatory practices.

2019

  • On February 21, 2019, the Tribunal issued a sixth non-compliance order against Canada for continuing its discriminatory practices.
  • On March 4, 2019, Xavier Moushoom filed a Statement of Claim in Federal Court on behalf of all First Nations youth affected by the discriminatory conduct that was the subject of the Tribunal decision.
  • On May 28, 2019, Jeremy Meawasige was added as a Plaintiff to the proposed class action, with the intention of representing the class of Jordan’s Principle victims.
  • On September 6, 2019, the Tribunal issued a seventh non-compliance order against Canada for continuing its discriminatory practices. The Tribunal also issued its ruling on compensation for victims of Canada’s discrimination, finding that various categories of First Nations children and their families are entitled to $40,000 each.
  • On October 4, 2019, Canada filed an application in Federal Court, seeking to judicially review the Tribunal’s ruling on compensation. Canada also asked the Federal Court for a stay of the Tribunal’s decision on compensation until the judicial review is decided.
  • On October 19, 2019, Prime Minister Trudeau stated that he agreed with the Tribunal’s decision that First Nations children deserve compensation for the discrimination they experienced.
  • On November 25, 2019, Canada stated that it will “work with plaintiffs’ counsel with the goal of moving forward with certification” of the class action in the Federal Court.
  • On Nocember 25, 2019, Canada announced that it would try to settle on compensation outside of Court in the First Nations child welfare class action lawsuit.
  • On November 29, 2019, the Federal Court rejected Canada’s request to stay the Tribunal’s compensation ruling. Canada now has until January 29, 2020 to submit a plan to the Tribunal detailing how compensation will be paid out to affected children and families.
  • On December 11, 2019, the House passed a motion calling on Ottawa to pay First Nations child welfare compensation ordered by the Tribunal.