Mississaugas of Scugog Island demand Justin Trudeau drop appeal in child welfare matter

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Published October 28, 2021 at 3:22 pm

The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation are demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not appeal a federal court ruling that declared Ottawa discriminated against indigenous children on reserves by failing to provide funding for child and family services.

The 2019 ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the government to provide up to $40,000 to each First Nations child taken into care since 2006 because of “discriminatory” underfunding of local child welfare services, as well as $40,000 to each child’s parents or caregiving grandparent, and a second ruling the following year made it clear the priority should always be the welfare of the child.

Ottawa challenged both rulings but Federal Court Justice Paul Favel upheld the Tribunals findings September 29.

The government was given until October 29 to appeal.

“Sadly, it’s still unclear if Justin Trudeau will appeal a federal court’s decision that upheld findings from the CHRT related to two orders that affect Indigenous children,” the First Nations band tweeted. “He has to decide by tomorrow. We call on him to end this farce & drop it!”

The band has support from the Canadian Bar Association, which is urging Trudeau not to pursue any further legal action on the matter

Bar Association lawyers who specialize in aboriginal and human rights issues sent a letter to Justice Minister David Lametti and Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller last week asking the federal government to put a stop to the appeal.

The October 14 letter states that appealing the Tribunal’s decision will be a mistake by “perpetuating further harm” on the spirit of reconciliation. “The ongoing litigation against the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and Assembly of First Nations stands in the way of reconciliation and does not serve the administration of justice.”

The letter writers add that the best course of action going forward is “good faith negotiation” rather than further litigation. “This is important on behalf of all the children who did not make it home from residential schools and for Indigenous people who struggle today to address the lingering effects of those injustices.”

Photo Patrick Doyle Canadian Press

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