Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lost an appeal to a court ruling mandating that the government must compensate indigenous children due to the discrimination they faced in the welfare system, Axios reported.
Trudeau appealed a 2019 ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordering the federal government to give $31,000 to each First Nation child removed from their home, Axios reported. The tribunal found the government “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated against children living on reserves by underfunding child and family services, The Guardian reported.
This policy led to a disproportionate number of indigenous children being pushed into the foster care system, Axios reported. More than half of the children in Canadian foster care are indigenous, despite the group representing only 7.7% of the country’s child population.
Trudeau said his appeal of the ruling was to “make sure we’re getting compensation right,” according to The Guardian. Federal Court Justice Paul Favel, however, said in his ruling Wednesday that “no one can seriously doubt that First Nations people are among the most disadvantaged and marginalized members of Canadian society.”
“The Tribunal was aware of this and reasonably attempted to remedy the discrimination while being attentive to the very different positions of the parties,” Favel added.
The government could still appeal the decision, but Favel said the parties must now choose “whether they will continue to sit beside the trail or move forward in this spirit of reconciliation.”
The ruling came a day prior to Canada’s first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, honoring indigenous children who suffered as a result of removal from their families and forced attendance of Christian schools. Hundreds of unmarked graves were discovered at a former boarding school for indigenous children in Canada in June.
Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, tweeted after the ruling a request that Trudeau “do the right thing- do not appeal these decisions and obey the legal orders to stop the discrimination.”
“You owe it to the Survivors and the children who were lost to not fight against the equality and care of this generation of children,” Blackstock added.
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