The Federal Court of Canada approved on Tuesday, a CA$ 23 billion settlement to compensate First Nations children and families who were harmed by the discriminatory underfunding of the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) program.The settlement resolved two class actions that were initiated in March 2019 and January 2020, respectively. Both class actions brought claims against the Canadian government for its underfunding and narrow coverage of the FNCFS program. All parties agreed to work towards reaching a global resolution by December 2021. Agreements-in-principle were reached on compensations in January 2022 and subsequently approved by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) in July 2023 after revision.In response to the approval, Assembly of First Nations Interim National Chief Joanna Bernard thanked the representative plaintiffs for their long overdue acknowledgement of the harm the First Nations experienced. Unicef Canada also welcomed the Federal Court approval and called for a speedy implementation of the agreement.Since 2016, the CHRT has ruled that the design of the FCFS program was based on flawed racial assumptions that resulted in inadequate fixed funding for operations and prevention costs. The court further ruled that inadequate funding had hindered the ability of FNCFS Agencies to provide provincially/territorially mandated child welfare services, let alone culturally appropriate services to First Nations children and families.Since then, the CHRT has ordered the Canadian government to cease its discriminatory practices and to immediately implement the full meaning and scope of Jordan’s Principle. The Canadian government had lodged several judicial reviews against CHRT’s decisions—which were dismissed by the Federal Court in relation to the eligibility for services for First Nations children under Jordan’s Principle. Jordan’s Principle was developed in 2007 to ensure all First Nations children are able to access the products, services and supports they need, including health, social and educational needs.

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