After decades of hard work and advocacy, a $40 billion dollar agreement-in-principle was unveiled Tuesday.
The deal will compensate First Nations children harmed by Canada’s child welfare system, many calling it discriminatory. The funds are also intended to reform the system.
It is the largest financial settlement of its kind in Canadian history.
The grandmother of a little girl who went through Alberta’s child welfare system and died in 2014 is speaking out about the announcement. Her name is Serenity.
Global News can’t identify any of her family members in order to protect Serenity’s other siblings. Although the four-year-old was in kinship care, she didn’t lose her life until after caregivers were given permanent guardianship.
“The children I speak for (are) the ones who died in child welfare,” Serenity’s grandmother said.
The young girl’s death triggered public criticism and calls for policy change.
Her grandmother added Tuesday’s agreement to compensate First Nations children harmed by the underfunding of the child welfare system on reserves can’t undo damage already done.
“We are going through many generations of a failed system and many children have fallen, and the compensation itself doesn’t preserve our families and build a road or relationship.”
Other advocates like Lynne Marshalsay run a Facebook group for families to support them.
The group ‘Preserving Families: The Fight Against Alberta Child and Family Services’ have shared countless stories of families going through the system and she feels compensation won’t be enough.
“It is broken. It is deep-rooted racism.”
“It’s just another payout. I predict in 20 years we will be doing a similar payout for our current kids in care,” Marshalsay said.
The federal government also allocated billions to prevent harm from ever happening again. Adam North Peigan is president of the Legacy of Hope Foundation, an organization supporting Indigenous children and their communities.
“Anybody can say they are sorry and put resources on the table about what needs to happen. It’s the action that needs to follow that up,” North Peigan said.