TRENTON, Canada (AA) – As Canadians commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day on Tuesday, a lawsuit concerning native children is a cloud on the horizon.
The Federal Court of Canada ruled Monday that a class-action lawsuit brought against the government on behalf of Indigenous children could proceed. The children did not live on Indigenous reserves and were removed from their families by government social welfare workers and placed in non-Indigenous care.
The period covered by the lawsuit is Jan. 1, 1992, to Dec. 31, 2019, and is referred to as the “Millennium Scoop.”
The action was brought because the federal government agreed to a $40 billion settlement to compensate Indigenous children who lived on reservations and were taken from families. But the settlement did not include children who lived off-reserves.
“It is fundamentally wrong that Canada has agreed to compensate on-reserve children while leaving off-reserve children out in the cold,” said lawyer Angela Bespflug, one of the solicitors representing the children.
The court agreed.
“Canada has repeatedly said it seeks reconciliation and resolution,” according to the court ruling. “Despite the lengthy period over which the offending acts occurred, that has not happened and there was no suggestion that it was likely or that a vehicle for resolution existed.”
It is estimated that about 11,000 Indian status children are affected and the number grows to 20,000 when non-status and Metis children are included. It was not immediately known how much financial compensation is being sought.