Canadian Human Rights Tribunal makes additional ruling on compensation for First Nations children

Published: Jun 01, 2020News

(Ottawa, ON): On May 28, 2020, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal delivered an additional ruling on compensation for First Nations children and their families who were subjected to Canada’s discriminatory policies regarding Jordan’s Principle and First Nations Child and Family Services. The latest ruling provides clarification on the following definitions related to compensation regarding Jordan’s Principle: essential service, service gap, and unreasonable delay.

The Tribunal upheld several issues related to the definitions that the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) put forward, including that a service did not need to be requested to be considered “essential,” and that definitions must be grounded in the principle of substantive equality. The Tribunal provided recommendations on the definitions of these terms, and the AFN, Canada and the other Parties involved with the case will collaborate on definitions to finalize the Draft Compensation Framework.

“The latest Tribunal ruling is a step forward to ensure that First Nations children and their families receive fair compensation for the pain and suffering they endured because of Canada’s discriminatory approach to Jordan’s Principle and child and family services,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “I am encouraged by this progress and hope that the Parties collaborate effectively on these outstanding definitions so that the compensation process can move forward.” In response to the Tribunal’s support for the AFN’s submissions, National Chief Bellegarde said, “The AFN continues to be a fierce advocate for First Nations children and their families and will pursue a fair and just Compensation Framework.”

In its September 2019 ruling on compensation, the Tribunal ordered Canada to award First Nations children and their caregiver(s) the maximum allowable compensation under the Canadian Human Rights Act, 1985. This includes $40,000 for the children and their caregiver(s) who were subjected to discrimination by Canada’s First Nations Child and Family Services program and narrow application of Jordan’s Principle. Canada has sought Judicial Review of this ruling in Federal Court; however, hearings cannot commence until a final ruling on compensation is issued by the Tribunal.

Manitoba Regional Chief, Kevin Hart, holds the child and family services file within the AFN.

“First Nations children and their families have been subjected to blatant discrimination by Canada for generations through the child and family services system,” said Regional Chief Hart. “Despite the Tribunal’s rulings, Canada continued to discriminate against First Nations children by disregarding substantive equality and, in turn, brought harm to these children. This progress towards establishing a framework for compensation is promising.”

In its latest ruling, the Tribunal recommended that the estate and family of Jordan River Anderson, the First Nations child from Norway House Cree Nation whose legacy inspired Jordan’s Principle, be compensated. “I am moved by the Tribunal’s recommendation to provide compensation to Jordan River Anderson and his family. This meaningful action will affirm Canada’s commitment to Jordan’s Principle and is a symbol of reconciliation,” said Regional Chief Hart.

In January 2016, the Tribunal issued a landmark ruling that stated Canada had discriminated against First Nations children and their families through discriminatory funding and policies related to child and family services and Jordan’s Principle. The Tribunal has ordered seven compliance orders against Canada since its initial ruling.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Senior Communications Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 244
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]