(Ottawa, Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario) – The Assembly of First Nations’ (AFN) legal counsel, along with representatives for class action parties Moushoom and Trout, will appear before the Federal Court of Canada today to seek the approval of the Final Settlement Agreement (FSA) on compensation. This will be final step to ensure First Nations children and families harmed by discriminatory practices in the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) program and narrow application of Jordan’s Principle will receive compensation for the harms they suffered.
The FSA, which has been in negotiations for more than two years, includes more than $23 billion to compensate over 300,000 children and families. The FSA was approved by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal earlier this year.
“While no amount can compensate for the injustices faced by First Nations children and families, the Final Settlement Agreement represents acknowledgment of those harms and decades of wrongdoing,” said Interim National Chief Joanna Bernard. “I acknowledge the courage of the Representative Plaintiffs during this prolonged process and all those who have helped along the way. While we can’t change the past, this compensation is a step towards healing for those affected and ensuring this is never repeated through upcoming long-term reform measures to the system.”
AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse, lead negotiator for the AFN, said, “These hearings are the culmination of a years-long process to secure recognition of the harms done by Canada to First Nations children and families. We are proud to stand alongside the representative plaintiffs, the legal parties, and affected First Nations children and families to fight for the compensation that is long overdue. Our hope is that this Final Settlement Agreement, which represents the best outcomes for the most possible claimants, is swiftly approved by the courts so compensation can begin reaching our people.”
The hearings will lead to a federal court decision that will either approve or reject the details in the FSA, including eligibility of class claimants. If approved, the FSA would determine the next steps for applications to claimants and the process for issuing compensation. Included in the negotiations were requests for cultural safety supports to be made available to all potential claimants.
Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse said, “It has taken far too long to reach this point. No amount of money will ever make up for what First Nations children and families have experienced through Canada’s discriminatory practices, but compensation for these experiences is both necessary and overdue. It is an acknowledgement of the harm.”
The AFN Interim National Chief and Manitoba Regional Chief have also issued a formal letter to the Prime Minister in advance of these hearings requesting that the formal apology be made in public, in the House of Commons, with the Representative Plaintiffs invited to attend to witness firsthand. This apology would be another step of acknowledgement in the process of healing for First Nations children and families. The AFN also continues to negotiate long-term reform measures to ensure discriminatory practices are eliminated from the FNCFS system and application of Jordan’s principle.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern.
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Senior Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations