Every child in Canada deserves to grow up with their family, supported by their community and their culture. However, for decades, thousands of First Nations children have been unnecessarily removed from their homes, families and communities.
Change is coming. On December 31, 2021, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Government of Canada and other parties reached a historic agreement on compensation for the discrimination that First Nations children and families experienced under the Government of Canada’s First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program and narrow application of Jordan’s Principle. A second historic agreement was reached between the AFN, the Government of Canada and other parties, including the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, on long-term reform of the FNCFS Program and Jordan’s Principle.
In the Agreement-in-Principle reached on compensation, the Government of Canada has agreed to pay a total of $20 billion in compensation to children removed from their homes on-reserve and in the Yukon from April 1, 1991, to March 2022, as well as to some of their caregivers.
The Agreement-in-Principle on compensation also includes children who were denied the essential services and other supports they needed or received them after a delay, because the Government of Canada failed to meet the essential service needs of First Nations children and failed to meet the legal requirements of Jordan’s Principle. Some of the caregivers of these children will also be compensated.
In addition to compensation, the Government of Canada has agreed in principle to invest close to $20 billion in reforms that will ensure that the profound discrimination in the FNCFS Program and improper application of Jordan’s Principle ends and does not happen again.
These reforms will fill long-standing, known gaps in services and support for on-reserve First Nations children, including youth reaching the age of majority. Reforms will address the underlying reasons that First Nations children enter the FNCFS Program, including poverty, inadequate housing and other infrastructure, and a lack of services to support families in crisis.
These reforms will also ensure the full and proper implementation of Jordan’s Principle so that gaps in essential programs and services for First Nations children are addressed. Long-term reform of the FNCFS Program and Jordan’s Principle has a clear priority: the wellness of First Nations children, families, and communities.