An agreement in principle on First Nations child welfare was finalized on Friday, sources tell The Globe and Mail.
The agreement was reached on the last day of negotiations with parties, including the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and representatives of class-action lawsuits related to Indigenous child welfare
Details have yet to be announced, but a press conference is expected to take place on Tuesday.
The Globe is not naming the sources because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the agreement.
Ottawa has been keen to reach a settlement on the issue, which has been a source of controversy for the Liberals for years. Opposition parties and advocates have repeatedly criticized the federal government on the matter, arguing its approach is harmful to First Nations children.
Earlier this month, the federal government said it would earmark $40-billion to compensate First Nations children and families for the failures of Canada’s child-welfare system and to pay for long-term reform, in hopes of settling the matter of court before the end of the year.
The $40-billion pledge is related to class-action lawsuits, as well a court battle over a finding by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT). It required Ottawa to provide up to $40,000 in compensation to each First Nations child unnecessarily taken into foster care because of underfunded government services since 2006. The order also required payments to parents and grandparents.
In October, the government announced it would appeal a Federal Court decision the month before that upheld the CHRT finding, despite calls not to pursue further legal action from representatives from the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Medical Association, as well as from opposition parties.
Ottawa also said at the time that it had agreed to put a pause on the litigation while it negotiated outside of court with First Nations groups.
In November, Murray Sinclair, the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who left the Senate in January, began facilitating the discussions.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said this month that if Mr. Sinclair was not facilitating the discussions, they probably would have broken down. Mr. Miller also said that progress made in the talks would have taken years in an “adversarial process.”
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