Human rights case to compensate First Nations kids extended to late February

A hearing scheduled for this week at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to work out details to compensate on-reserve First Nations children has been pushed back yet again.

Canada and parties involved in the discrimination case at the tribunal was scheduled for Jan. 29 but is now set for Feb. 21.

The original date was Dec. 10.

In 2016, the federal government was found guilty of discriminating against children who live on reserve and were involved in the child welfare system.

As a result, the tribunal, chaired by Sophie Marchildon, issued a compensation order that totalled $40,000 in total for each child taken from their homes and put in a purposely underfunded child welfare system.

Parents and grandparents would also be eligible for compensation.

The parties were ordered to come up with a plan to identify who was eligible, along with a plan to issue the money.

But Canada pushed back and took the case to a Federal Court where it asked for the tribunal ruling to be put on hold until a judicial review took place.

Canada has always maintained that the tribunal overstepped its authority with its ruling that was handed down by commissioners Sophie Marchildon and Edward Lustig.

To date it has chosen to litigate rather than negotiate a settlement.

In Frater’s opening statement in federal court Nov. 25, the government claimed that compensating these children based on the tribunal’s order alone would do “irreparable harm” to Canada.

“This was a complaint about systemic under funding,” he said. “When you make a systemic complaint, you get a systemic remedy.”

“We say this remedy is inconsistent with the claim,” Frater said, adding that a stay in proceedings was requested in “the public interest,” because of the billions of dollars that could be paid out.

The court ruled against Canada.

In early January, Marc Miller, minister of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), followed through with a promise made at Assembly of First Nations (AFN) special chiefs assembly in December and appointed ISC Senior Assistant Deputy Minister Valerie Gideon and Justice Canada lawyer Robert Frater to sit down with parties at the tribunal to work out how many children need to be compensated and how they will be found.

More to come.