Historic milestone in landmark human rights case

October 26, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

In response to Tuesday’s Federal Court ruling, Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission applauds this week’s Federal Court ruling in a years-long legal process that began as a human rights complaint on behalf of First Nations children and their families.

This ruling means that the Federal Court joins the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in approving an unprecedented settlement of $23.4 billion dollars for First Nations children, youth and families harmed by Canada’s chronic and discriminatory underfunding of child and family and other services.

This landmark settlement stems from 2007, when the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, together with the Assembly of First Nations, filed a human rights complaint against the Government of Canada, on behalf of First Nations children and families. The complaint proceeded before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, where the Canadian Human Rights Commission participated on behalf of the public interest.

In January of 2016, the Tribunal released its decision upholding the complaint and thereby confirming that the First Nations Child and Family Services Program, and how it was funded, was discriminatory. The Tribunal ordered the federal government to reform the child and family services program, and to properly implement Jordan's Principle – a child-first principle that makes sure First Nations children can access the products, services and supports they need, when they need them.

We applaud the hard work and dedication of Dr. Cindy Blackstock, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, and all the parties whose unwavering commitment for over fifteen years has spurred these matters forward and ensured the voices of the children, their families and communities were heard.

Now what matters most is to ensure that the settlement is distributed fairly and as swiftly as possible, and that work continues on program reform so that nothing like this ever happens again.

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