Final settlement agreement signed in Jordan’s Principle case

·3 min read

The federal government announced earlier this week that their $20-billion agreement in principle with plaintiffs in the Jordan’s Principle class-action lawsuit had been signed and waiting for the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s final approval.

The landmark settlement, which was reached in principle just before Christmas and will compensate First Nations children and families harmed by discriminatory underfunding of the First Nations Child and Family Services program and the federal government's narrow definition of Jordan's Principle.

The government will wait for approval from the CHRT that the settlement satisfies its orders on compensation. After that, the agreement will be presented to the Federal Court and compensation will begin.

The Jordan’s Principle lawsuit will seek compensation for those children taken from their homes in First Nations communities and placed in culturally inappropriate foster care outside of those communities, where they were subject to abuse and worse.

The agreement provides $20 billion and, once approved, the following groups will be eligible for compensation: Children who were removed from their homes under the First Nations Child and Family Services program between April 1, 1991 and March 31, 2022; children who were impacted by the government's narrow definition of Jordan's Principle between December 12, 2007 and November 2, 2017; children who did not receive or were delayed in receiving an essential public service or product between April 1, 1991 and December 11, 2007; and caregiving parents or caregiving grandparents of the children above may also be eligible for compensation.

In addition, the settlement also calls for a $20 billion investment in helping First Nations communities across Canada establish their own family-services agencies to avoid removing Indigenous kids from Indigenous communities.

A federal press release said work is underway on that project as well.

‘With respect to long-term reform, parties are working hard at reaching a final settlement agreement to ensure a solid, reformed system to end the discrimination found by the Tribunal,’ the federal government’s statement said.

Assembly of First Nations Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse lauded the agreement saying it was time for institutional discrimination against Indigenous people to end.

“After three decades of advocacy, and months of negotiations, the AFN is pleased with reaching terms of this historic compensation agreement for our children and families impacted by the discriminatory First Nations Child and Family Services Program and the narrow implementation of Jordan's Principle,” she said. “First Nations children have always deserved to be treated fairly and equitably, and this $20 billion compensation settlement recognizes that this was not the policy nor the practice. We look forward to its ratification by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and the Federal Court, so that compensation can begin to reach the children and families impacted."

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said the historic harm done against Indigenous people in Canada must be undone.

"Historic harms require historic reparations. While no amount of compensation can make up for the grief and trauma that the actions of the Government of Canada caused to First Nations children and families, this final settlement agreement is an important step forward to acknowledging the harm done and beginning the hard work of healing,” Hajdu said. “I am hopeful that the court process for approving the agreement will be quick, and people and families can have the certainty and resolution they have asked for. Canada must never repeat these discriminatory actions. We must all work together to ensure that every First Nations child has equal opportunity to succeed, surrounded by family, culture, and community.”

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase

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