Federal Court Upholds CHRT Decisions re Compensation and Jordan’s Principle Eligibility

Children & Youth

Today the Federal Court released its decision (linked here) of Canada’s judicial review of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal “Tribunal”) decisions regarding First Nations children in the child welfare system. Canada sought to set aside the Tribunal’s decisions which granted compensation to children who had been taken into care, and adults who were taken into care as children.  The decisions also allowed certain non-status First Nations children to apply for Jordan’s Principle services:  First Nations are allowed to determine who is a member or citizen of their community for the purposes of Jordan’s Principle eligibility, rather than rely on the Indian Act. The court dismissed Canada’s request for judicial review, upholding the Tribunal’s decisions. This is great news for children in care, adults who were formerly in case and their families, that have been discriminated against for far too long.

This decision was released the day before Orange Shirt Day, or the recently enacted federal National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day asks us to reflect on the residential schools legacy, which continues today in the overrepresentation of First Nations children in the child welfare system.  People all across Canada will reflect on a painful part of the history of this country that has often been ignored. OKT offices will be closed in remembrance of all those who attended Residential Schools, and to honour the Survivors.

While much work remains to be done to close the gap First Nations face in the child welfare system, this decision hopefully helps move First Nations and Canada towards reconciliation. As Justice Favel wrote in his decision at paragraphs 299 and 301, “Reconciliation, as nation-building, can also result in the re-establishment, on a proper foundation, of broken or damaged relationships between Indigenous people and Canada in the manner suggested by the Supreme Court in its numerous judgments… However, the good work of the parties is unfinished. The parties must decide whether they will continue to sit beside the trail or move forward in this spirit of reconciliation.”

We are pleased to represent Chiefs of Ontario in this matter, and honoured to support the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society who tirelessly advocates for First Nations children.

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