“A Step Forward between First Nations and the Federal Government: A Positive Outcome, but A Long Way to Go to Eliminate Discrimination.”

Press Release

WENDAKE, QC, Jan. 4, 2022 – After several weeks of negotiations, an agreement in principle on compensation and reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) program was concluded today between Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, and other parties, in an effort to cease Canada’s discriminatory conduct and ensure that the discrimination is not repeated.

“Although we consider this agreement as being an important step forward, we feel that long-term reform work is still required for Jordan’s principle, and that reforming government is essential if we want to prevent any future harm to our First Nations children, youth and families. Until now, Canada’s slow pace of change on immediate relief has delayed progress on long-term reform. We expect the federal government to get it right this time. We need concrete actions, starting today”, said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL).

This agreement will serve as a framework to reach a final settlement agreement, which will be brought to the Chiefs-in-Assembly for review and approval. The final agreement should include, among other things, provisions for compensating First Nations children and their parent(s), or caregiver(s), who experienced discrimination in the FNCFS program and Jordan’s Principle, and additional FNCFS program funding focused on prevention and based on substantive equality, while taking full account of the unique circumstances of the respective First Nation(s), including their historical, cultural, and geographical needs.

A few highlights:

  • In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) found that Canada’s funding model was discriminatory, and that its failure to implement Jordan’s Principle on and off community was discriminatory. The Tribunal ordered Canada to cease its discriminatory policies, procedures and agreements and prevent the recurrence of discrimination in the future.
  • In 2019, the CHRT ordered Canada to provide compensation to victims of its discrimination in the delivery of child and family services to First Nations children and the failure to abide by Jordan’s Principle, including:
    • First Nations children living in their community or in the Yukon who were unnecessarily removed from their home, and their parent(s) or caregiving grandparent(s);
    • First Nations children who were necessarily removed from their home but were placed outside of their extended family or community; and,
    • First Nations children who faced a gap, delay and/or denial of an essential service, and their parent(s) or caregiving grandparent(s).
  • In 2020, the Assembly of First Nations filed a Class Action lawsuit against Canada for the harms it perpetuated against First Nations children and families in the federal FNCFS program and Jordan’s Principle that is similar to CHRT, and it includes more individuals from 1991.
  • The AFN also has other representative plaintiff individuals who are important to the pursuit of this case.

About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the regional political organization that brings together 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. Follow the AFNQL on Twitter @APNQL.

For further information: Alain Garon, agaron@apnql.com, Communications Advisor, Cell.: (418) 254-4620

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