The former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada will facilitate talks between the federal government and child welfare advocates in the hope of securing an agreement to compensate First Nations children.
The Liberal government has said Murray Sinclair will chair discussions between parties, including lawyers representing plaintiffs in a related class action lawsuit, as they attempt to settle the case out of court by the end of the day. end December.
Sinclair, a former senator, headed the commission which spent from 2008 to 2015 investigating the experiences of thousands of Indigenous people sent to residential schools as children. He is a highly respected voice on issues of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
“I am very optimistic that we will be able to have an agreed solution within the time frame we have set,” Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu told The Canadian Press in an interview on Wednesday.
Compensation for Indigenous children does not equate to justice: AFN chief
She said it had been made clear to government negotiators that they needed to be “solution-oriented” in their deliberations.
Sinclair’s role in the talks comes after the Liberal government appealed a Federal Court ruling last month upholding orders ordering him to pay $ 40,000 each to thousands of First Nations children removed from their care. home, as well as to some of their relatives.
The compensation stems from an earlier Canadian Human Rights Tribunal finding that Ottawa discriminated against First Nations children by knowingly underfunding child and family services on reserve.
Advocates say this lack of funding has led to unnecessary separation of families, which has caused suffering. The problem has been going on for years, with the initial discrimination complaint filed in 2007.
Federal government appeals decision to compensate Indigenous children
The court also ruled that the federal government should broaden its criteria for Jordan’s Principle, a measure stating that jurisdictional disputes should not interfere with the delivery of services to First Nations children.
The parties involved include the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.
In 2019, the Liberal government challenged court orders in Federal Court.
After losing his case in a ruling in late September, Indigenous leaders, opposition politicians and child welfare advocates across Canada have pleaded with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to end his case. court battle and pay the compensation owed to First Nations children.
Ottawa suspends court appeal over Indigenous compensation, will work to reach settlement
Despite pressure to do otherwise, the Trudeau government filed a notice of appeal with the Federal Court of Appeal on the last day to do so. It was also at this point that some of his ministers revealed that the parties had agreed to put the litigation on hold until December to allow time, hopefully, to agree on a financial settlement out of court. .
Details of what Ottawa has offered remain confidential. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, who is also leading the case, said last month when negotiations were announced that appropriate compensation would amount to “billions of dollars,” adding that some children have entitled to more than the $ 40,000 awarded by the court.
Hajdu said on Wednesday that the talks involved not only details on compensation, but also agreements on long-term reforms needed to improve child protection to better serve indigenous children.
“Every day that people talk, I am very optimistic.”
© 2021 The Canadian Press