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Court rules Canada must compensate Indigenous foster children for discrimination

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government appealed the tribunal’s decision in 2019 (File)

A human rights tribunal ruling should order the Canadian government to compensate Indigenous children and families for discrimination, a federal court decided Wednesday.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in 2016 that the federal government allocated less money to Indigenous people’s child and family services than non-Indigenous people, pushing more Indigenous children into foster care.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government appealed the tribunal’s 2019 decision, which ordered the government to pay C$40,000 ($31,496) to each affected child, the maximum allowed under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The tribunal also said that the parents or grandparents of the children would also be eligible for compensation, barring certain exceptions.

But Federal Court Justice Paul Fawell dismissed the government’s appeal and encouraged both sides to continue talks.

“The parties must decide whether they will continue to sit by the side of the road or move forward in this spirit of reconciliation,” wrote Favell, referring to an indigenous parable about a man who had been a mark for so long. sits near that he grows and he loses his way.

The tribunal’s decision is expected to cost the federal government billions of dollars.

Trudeau’s government can appeal the court’s decision. In the past his government has argued that although the human rights tribunal was right in finding discrimination in the system, it went further by ordering compensation.

Indigenous Services Canada, the ministry responsible for foster children, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, which brought the original complaint, welcomed the decision, calling it “a complete rejection of all of the government’s spurious arguments, and an absolute victory for the children”.

The Canadian government’s legal battle with indigenous peoples has come under scrutiny after hundreds of unmarked graves were discovered at the sites of former residential schools.

As recently as 1996, Canada’s residential school system separated children from their families and sent them to boarding schools, where they were malnourished, beaten and sexually abused, according to the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. called “cultural genocide”.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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