Lawsuit seeks compensation for First Nations child welfare, end to apprehensions

WINNIPEG-Indigenous leaders are suing the federal and Manitoba governments over what they say are far-reaching and damaging effects of the child welfare system.

In a statement of claim, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and other plaintiffs are seeking $1 billion in compensation and an end to apprehensions they say are often based on poverty and racial bias.

The federal government reached an agreement in principle earlier this year to compensate children who were taken from their families on reserve.

The new lawsuit is aimed at First Nations children who were seized off reserve in the Manitoba child welfare system.

One of the plaintiffs, Roberta Godin, says she had her children and grandchildren taken away.

She says she was eventually successful in reuniting with them, but the separation caused great harm.

Roughly 80 per cent of children in care in Manitoba are First Nations.

Indigenous leaders say that makes them more likely to face poverty, homelessness, mental health issues and involvement in the criminal justice system.

“There’s so much damage that has been done that we cannot undo,” Cora Morgan, the First Nations family advocate for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said Thursday.

The statement of claim contains allegations that have not been proven in court. There was no immediate response from the federal and Manitoba governments.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022

 

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