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Canada Reaches Settlement with First Nations Groups Over Family Separations

Canada Reaches Settlement with First Nations Groups Over Family Separations

Canada is taking steps to repair a history of discrimination in its child welfare system by paying $31.5 billion to those who suffered from the unnecessary foster care placement of Indigenous youth over the past 30 years, according to The Washington Post. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has described the country’s years of disproportionate Indigenous family separation as “cultural genocide.”

The $31.5 billion agreement is the result of several lawsuits filed by First Nations groups against the Canadian government, according to Reuters.

“First Nations from across Canada have had to work very hard for this day to provide redress for monumental wrongs against First Nation children, wrongs fueled by an inherently biased system,” Cindy Woodhouse, the Manitoba regional chief at the Assembly of First Nations, told The New York Times.

Around 115,000 children have been separated from their families since 1991, according to Robert Kugler, a lawyer who represented two First Nations lawsuits. Less than eight percent of Canadian children under 14 are Indigenous; however, they represent more than 52 percent of the youth in foster care, according to data from the 2016 Census. “This wasn’t and isn’t about parenting,” Woodhouse said at a press conference after the announcement. “It’s in fact about poverty.”

The Assembly of First Nations is the largest Indigenous organization in Canada. More than 200,000 of its members will benefit from the $31.5 billion settlement, of which half will be used to compensate those affected in childhood as well as their families. The remaining funds will be put towards long-term preventative measures intended to help keep families whole, and aid young people currently aging out of the foster care system.

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