AFN chiefs endorse revised child-welfare settlement, call on Trudeau to apologize

First Nations chiefs have approved a revised multibillion-dollar settlement for children and families harmed by Ottawa’s underfunding of on-reserve child and family services.

Chiefs attending a special session of the General Assembly of First Nations passed a motion today in support of the new agreement, which includes an additional $3 billion from Ottawa and increases the total compensation package to $23 billion.

In 2019, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the federal government to pay $40,000 in restitution to Aboriginal families and children who were wrongfully separated due to insufficient funding for child benefits on reservation, sparking two class action lawsuits.

The federal government began negotiations with the Congress of Indigenous Peoples in 2021 to resolve the lawsuits, eventually agreeing to spend $20 billion to overhaul the child welfare system and pay another $20 billion in reparations.

The deal was called into question last year after the tribunal rejected the proposed settlement, citing concerns that not all claimants would receive the $40,000.

But when chiefs gathered in Ottawa this week, the council announced it had reached a revised settlement that would include 13,000 children and other amendments it believed would satisfy the court’s concerns.

The new settlement agreement will now be submitted to the court for approval.

The chiefs also called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make a “formal and meaningful” apology to the accusers and victims.

—Stephanie Taylor, Canadian Press

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