The Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Marc Miller, and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable David Lametti, issued the following statement today:
“On March 12, the Government of Canada filed its written submissions before the Federal Court in support of two applications for judicial review of Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) rulings rendered in September 2019, July 2020 and November 2020, which relate to compensation and the definition of a First Nations child for the purposes of Jordan’s Principle eligibility.
Far too many First Nations children have experienced harm in the child and family services system. The over-representation of First Nation children in care continues to be a sad and dark part of our shared history. Fully addressing the broken child and family services system requires both systemic reform and individual compensation. Canada has committed to advancing compensation for First Nations children in care and has undertaken significant reform to the First Nation Child and Family Services system.
While much progress has been made to respond to the CHRT rulings, on the issue of compensation, the September 2019 ruling demonstrates an overreach of jurisdiction which fails to adequately advance fair, equitable and comprehensive compensation. That is why we are actively seeking alternative avenues to comprehensive compensation for those affected.
On the issue of the definition of First Nations child for the purposes of Jordan’s Principle eligibility, we agree that services and supports should be provided to children who are recognized by their First Nation for eligibility under Jordan’s Principle, which is why eligibility will remain in place for them. However, we maintain that further engagement is required directly with First Nations on the important questions of community acceptance and second generation eligibility, as outlined in the July and November 2020 CHRT rulings.
Deciding who belongs to a First Nation community is complex and Canada will work with First Nations in making those decisions and implement the community acceptance aspect of this order regardless of the outcome of the judicial review. Since 2018, Canada has implemented changes to Jordan’s Principle to permanently expand eligibility criteria to include children who are registered or eligible to be registered under the Indian Act, and children who ordinarily reside on reserve. Additionally, for children who are not eligible to be registered but have one parent/guardian that is eligible to be registered, Canada continues to engage with First Nations partners with regard to the second-generation cut-off under the Indian Act and eligibility for a range of programs and services offered by the Government of Canada.
Canada has been working with the parties to the CHRT complaint, First Nations leaders and partners to implement the CHRT orders and ensure we meet the needs of First Nations children. These judicial reviews will provide clarity, and will allow us to focus on ensuring that we reach a fair, equitable and comprehensive resolution as soon as possible.”