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January 4th, 2022

Liberals have to assure Indigenous people the discrimination will end: NDP

NDP critic for Indigenous Services, Lori Idlout, and NDP deputy critic for Crown-Indigenous Relations, Charlie Angus, made the following statement:

“Today’s announcement is long overdue. This has the potential to be an historic moment, which has happened because of multiple court actions and years of dedicated activism to address the government’s systemic discrimination against Indigenous children.

This settlement became necessary because, for years, there was a massive amount of damage deliberately inflicted on First Nations children. This government knew that they were underfunding the vital medical services these children needed. Instead of owning up to their actions, the Liberal government chose to fight these children in court. Every year that the Liberals dragged their feet was another year First Nations children didn’t get the support or services they were owed from the government.

While we are hopeful that this is a great step forward, we have concerns with the announcement from the Trudeau government.

The compensation announced today must reach those who were harmed by this government’s actions quickly. This agreement is non-binding, and there needs to be constant vigilance to ensure that the promises made today do not end up among the many, many broken promises the Trudeau government has made to Indigenous people across Canada.

Beyond today’s announcement, the Liberals have to make some real changes in how government responds to First Nations, Métis and Inuit. Despite their promises, the Trudeau government continues to interfere with Jordan’s principle by making it difficult for service providers to get Indigenous children the medical care they need. There is nothing in today’s announcement to say that this discrimination will never happen again. Indigenous people deserve to hear the government commit to ending the discrimination that made this settlement necessary in the first place.

The government needs to acknowledge that the settlement is for specific harm that was done to First Nations children who were denied adequate medical services. The government cannot cut crucial funding to other services that First Nations, Inuit or Métis communities need because of this settlement. The Liberal government must honour all of its commitments and obligations, including those commitments made on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the Calls to Justice from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry, if there is to be increased trust and positive steps toward real reconciliation.

New Democrats will continue to advocate for the First Nations children. We will push the government to get them the compensation they're owed quickly and to end the discrimination they have faced for decades. We will always fight for Indigenous kids and their families to have fair, equal access to services they deserve.”