Ottawa urged to drop litigation on human rights tribunal orders that affect Indigenous children

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Representatives from the Canadian Bar Association are urging the federal government not to take any further legal action against a pair of human rights tribunal decisions that could make Canada liable for billions of dollars in compensation to Indigenous children and their families.

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The Liberal government has until October 29 to decide whether it will appeal a landmark Federal Court ruling that linked the findings of the Human Rights Tribunal of Canada (CHRT) to two orders that decriminalized Indigenous children. They affect.

Legal professionals belonging to Canadian Bar Association groups dedicated to tribal law, youth law and human rights law sent a letter Friday Indigenous Services Minister Mark Miller and Justice Minister David Lametti. It also asks ministers to avoid “continuing to challenge the decisions of the CHRT in this matter and from sustaining damage”.


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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a visit on Monday Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, that the government has not yet decided whether to appeal the Federal Court’s decision. He reiterated the government’s relentless assurance that it was committed to providing compensation to First Nations children.

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In 2019, CHRT found that Ottawa had discriminated against native children by failing to provide funding for child and family services. In the tribunal’s decision, it ordered the government to provide up to $40,000 to each First Nations child who was unnecessarily cared for on or after January 1, 2006, and said that its order required a parent or grandparent of children— Grandmothers have also been included who are deprived of essential services. The decision of a second tribunal made last year, Jordan’s doctrine, a rule that states that when governments disagree about who is responsible for providing services to a First Nations child, they should prioritize helping the child.

Ottawa sought a judicial review of the CHRT findings, but Federal Court Justice Paul Fawell upheld both decisions of the tribunal on September 29.

In In the letter, CBA representatives say that the lawsuit against the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations – which filed the complaints that led to the CHRT order – stands in the way of reconciliation and does not serve the administration of justice .

The letter also concurs with Justice Favell’s comments that it is time to take meaningful steps to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action. The TRC spent six years investigating the effects of government-funded, church-run residential schools, where thousands of Indigenous children were killed and many more abused.

It is best to “find a solution through good faith rather than further litigation,” the letter said.

“This is important on behalf of all children who did not make homes out of residential schools and for indigenous peoples who are struggling to overcome the effects of those injustices today.”

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The CBA is a national association that represents 36,000 jurists, including lawyers, notaries, law teachers and students across Canada.

Government discussions about appeals are taking place against the backdrop of increasing attention to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada. The reconciliation process was brought into sharper attention this summer after several First Nations announced that they had discovered unmarked burial sites near former residential schools.

When contacted on Tuesday, Mr. Miller’s office did not Instead, it points to a Official statement from the day the Federal Court delivered its decision. Canada is reviewing the decision and further information will emerge, the statement said.

Mr Miller had previously said his department was moving forward on a model of compensation for indigenous peoples who faced discrimination covered by the tribunal’s orders. He has also said that private discussions are taking place over two class-action lawsuits related to compensation for indigenous children.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, said on Tuesday that her sentiment, based on Mr Trudeau’s most recent public comments, is that the government is going to appeal. If the government decides to contest the court’s decision, it said, it would be “beyond despair”.

“Every time they do this, the victims are children and families,” Ms Blackstock said. “That’s what’s always on my mind. They keep hurting people.”

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NDP MP Charlie Angus, who has been outspoken throughout the CHRT case, told The Granthshala that it is very worrying that the federal government has not said it will accept the Federal Court’s decision.

The decision was very damaging and defied every single argument of the government,” Mr Angus said. He said an appeal would result in Mr Trudeau’s credibility on the reconciliation being “lost forever”.

“They need to do the right thing,” said Mr. Angus. “That’s it. End of story.”

Halliburton-Kawartha Lake-Brock Conservative MP Jamie Schmale said in a statement Tuesday that the Liberal government has spent years over this “shameful court battle” and that reconciliation must be achieved in partnership with communities.

Ms Blackstock said indigenous leaders present at the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation with the prime minister on Monday raised the matter specifically with her, and she stressed the need for the government to end litigation to prove it Gave. It is committed to reconciliation. She said Ottawa needed to “put down his sword.”

“It needs to stop fighting reconciliation,” she said. “It needs to be understood that when the children of the First Nations win, the country also wins.”

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