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Feds fight ruling on compensation for failures in First Nations child services

Last Updated Oct 4, 2019 at 11:05 am PDT

FILE - Parliament Hill is pictured through an iron fence in Ottawa on Thursday, April 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Feds want the federal court to review decision that Ottawa must compensate Indigenous children separated from families

Human Rights Tribunal awarded First Nations children, families maximum damages possible

Tribunal found feds discriminated against Indigenous children on reserves by not properly funding welfare services

OTTAWA — The federal government is appealing a ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordering Ottawa to pay $2 billion in compensation to First Nations children and their families who were separated by a chronically underfunded child-welfare system.

The government has filed a notice of application with the Federal Court, asking for a judicial review of the tribunal’s ruling in September.

In that decision, the tribunal said the federal government “willfully and recklessly” discriminated against Indigenous children living on reserves by not properly funding child and family services.

The result was a mass removal of Indigenous children from their parents for years in a system Indigenous leaders say had more First Nations kids living in foster care than at the height of the residential-schools era.

The tribunal awarded the maximum damages it can — $40,000 — for each child taken away for lack of proper services or who was later returned to his or her family; for each parent or grandparent who had a child taken; for each child who experienced abuse in foster care; and for each child who was taken into foster care because proper medical supports were not made available to their families.

The decision to challenge the ruling comes three days before the Oct. 7 deadline to file an appeal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2019.