First Nations Youth Class Action - Sotos Class Actions
OVERVIEW

First Nations Youth

Sotos Class Actions is prosecuting this case in collaboration with Kugler Kandestin LLP in Montreal and Miller Titerle + Co in Vancouver.

This case seeks compensation for systematic discrimination against certain First Nations children by the federal government of Canada since 1991.

The discrimination has taken two forms.

First, the government has denied proper funding to child welfare agencies responsible for the protection and well-being of First Nations children. This denial of proper funding has directly contributed to the epidemic numbers of First Nations children on reserves being removed from their homes and communities and placed in state care – a phenomenon referred to as the “Millennium Scoop.”

Second, the federal government has failed to honour Jordan’s Principle. Jordan’s Principle is a legal requirement on the federal government to provide First Nations children with necessary services and products regardless of which level of government must eventually pay for those products or services. Jordan’s Principle is designed to ensure that funding disputes between levels of government (federal, provincial or territorial) do not result in the delay or denial of necessary services or products to First Nations children. In breach of Jordan’s Principle, the government has delayed or denied services and products to tens of thousands of First Nations children living both on and off-reserve.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, in a landmark decision in 2016, found that the federal government had discriminated against First Nations children both because of underfunding of child welfare agencies and because it has failed to honour Jordan’s Principle. This case seeks compensation for each First Nations person affected by either form of discrimination since 1991.

The case seeks to represent:

all First Nations persons who:

  • were under the applicable provincial/territorial age of majority; and
  • were taken into out-of-home care during the period from April 1, 1991 to March 31, 2022 while they or their parent(s) were ordinarily resident on a Reserve.

and all First Nations persons who were under the applicable provincial/territorial age of majority from April 1, 1991 to November 2, 2017 and who experienced delays or denials of a public service or product contrary to Jordan’s Principle.

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FAQ

Has a settlement been reached in the class actions?

An agreement in principle has been signed to settle both class actions. The  parties will ask a judge of the Federal Court to approve the settlement in a hearing known as a settlement approval hearing. You will be notified about the settlement approval hearing if you have registered on our website: https://sotosclassactions.com/cases/current-cases/first-nations-youth/

Until the court has approved the settlement, we cannot answer every question that you may have about the settlement including the amounts and timing of the payments that you may be entitled to. The court hearing will take place during the week of September 19, 2022.

When will the settlement be official?

Once the Federal Court has approved the settlement following the settlement approval hearing.

Will I be included in the settlement?

The answer to this question is not final yet. We will know the details after the court’s approval. But you will likely qualify to receive compensation if you are in one or more of these groups:

“Removed Child” Class
You are a member of this Class if you answer yes to all of these questions:

  1. Are you First Nation?
  2. Were you removed from your home when you were a child?
  3. Was your home on a First Nation reserve or in the Yukon?
  4. Were you removed on or after April 1, 1991?

“Jordan’s Principle” Class

You are a member of this Class if you answer yes to all of these questions:

  1. Are you First Nation?
  2. Did you need an important service or product (for example a wheelchair or oral surgery) when you were a child?
  3. Did you receive that service or product after a delay or never received it?
  4. Did this happen between April 1, 1991 and March 31, 2022?

“Caregiver” Class

You may be a member of this Class if you were a caregiver of a child in one of the above two groups of children.

If you have doubts or questions, still register on our website so you can find out if you qualify for compensation when we have the definitive answers.

How will I know about what is going on in the settlement?

We send regular email updates to everyone who has registered on our website.

We also plan to hold online townhall meetings where we will explain the settlement in greater detail and answer questions that we have received. We will let you know when those townhalls will take place.

You can also email us at firstnationsyouth@sotos.ca or call 1-888-888-3126 in English or 1-866-857-7047 in French if you have a question that is not answered in this FAQ.

How do I sign up for payment?

The best way to sign up for now is to register on our website: https://sotosclassactions.com/cases/current-cases/first-nations-youth/.

There is no other place to officially sign up right now. Forms will be sent out to all class members after the settlement is approved by the Federal Court.

When will I receive payment?

Several steps must be taken before payments can be made, so it is not possible to say when this will happen. We will have a better sense of when payments can be made after the settlement approval hearing.

I am a member of the Removed Child Class. Will my family members receive compensation?

At this point, it has not been decided how compensation will be distributed to primary caregivers of the Removed Child Class. This will be determined in the next few months.

I was in the Yukon when I was removed from my home, am I in the Removed Child Class?

Yes. If you are First Nation and lived in the Yukon and were removed from your home on or after April 1, 1991, you are in the Removed Child Class.

How is First Nations defined?

Those who have status under the Indian Act are included.

Also, those who have the legal right to obtain Indian Act status are included.

Individuals who have been recognized as citizens by their First Nations are also included. The details of the criteria for this group will be determined by the court at the time of approving the settlement.

I am First Nations but was not living on a reserve at the time I was removed from my home. Am I in the Removed Child class?

The answer is generally no, unless you or one of your parents were ordinarily resident on a reserve when you were removed.

But if you were removed from your home off-reserve to receive an important service or product, you may still be included in the Jordan’s Principle Class. Please register on our website and wait until after the court’s approval decision to find out if you can apply for compensation.

What is Jordan’s Principle?

Jordan’s Principle is a legal rule that requires governments to treat First Nations children equal to others and to not deprive them of important services that they need. Jordan’s Principle requires that the best interests of the children be the most important consideration for the governments.

Jordan’s Principle is named after Jordan River Anderson. Jordan did not receive the services he desperately needed because the governments were arguing about who should pay for Jordan’s needs. Jordan’s Principle is intended to ensure that what happened to Jordan does not happen to other First Nations children.

I am a member of the Jordan’s Principle Class. Will my family members be compensated?

This depends. At this point, it has not been decided how compensation will be distributed to primary caregivers of the Jordan’s Principle Class. This will be determined in the next few months.

Are these cases different from the Sixties Scoop and Indian Residential Schools class actions?

Yes. These are entirely separate class actions.

Are these cases different from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal compensation decision ordering Canada to pay $40,000 to each affected individual as compensation?

The settlement of the class actions overlaps with the Tribunal compensation decision. If the Federal Court approves the settlement, this settlement will cover all claims under both the Tribunal and the class actions. You will only have to make one application for compensation under both the class actions and the Tribunal compensation order.

When will I receive an application form to apply for compensation?

If and when the Federal Court approves the settlement, all class members will be given more information on how to claim compensation.

How much money should I expect to receive in compensation?

This has not yet been determined. However, we expect that members of the Removed Child Class will receive no less than $40,000 each. A Removed Child may also receive significantly more depending on factors such as: length of time in care; number of out-of-home placements, and if they were placed in care on or off reserve. It is also expected that up to two primary caregivers of each Removed Child will receive compensation in the amount of $40,000 each. We will know better who qualifies as a primary caregiver after the court’s settlement approval decision.

The amount of compensation for Jordan’s Principle has not yet been determined. This will be determined in the coming months.

Will the compensation be subject to tax?

It is expected that the compensation payments will be exempt from tax.

Will I be told about the court hearing to approve the settlement?

Yes. We will send an email to everyone who has registered on our website.

What should I do now?

Register on our website. We will send you an email when we have more information and when there are new developments.

You can also email us at firstnationsyouth@sotos.ca or call 1-888-888-3126 in English or 1-866-857-7047 in French.

Updates
  • January 4, 2022: The plaintiffs announced a proposed settlement of these class actions, subject to the approval of the Federal Court, by all parties. Please see the press release here.
  • July 21, 2021: The plaintiffs issued their Consolidated Statement of Claim with leave from the Honourable Justice St-Louis.
  • July 16, 2021: The Assembly of First Nations and Zacheus Joseph Trout issued their Statement of Claim with leave from the Honourable Justice St-Louis.
  • July 7, 2021: The Honourable Justice St-Louis granted the plaintiffs’ motions to consolidate, amend, add certain parties and litigation guardians, etc.
  • December 10, 2020: The plaintiffs have started mediation with Canada and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society with the assistance of a First Nation retired judge as mediator. The mediation is expected to continue into 2021.
  • November 17, 2020: The plaintiffs filed with the Court their motions for: (a) consent certification (of the Removed Child Class from 1991 until the present and Jordan’s Principle Class from 2007 until the present); (b) for the Court’s permission to start the class action brought by the Assembly of First Nations; (c) for the Court’s permission for the consolidation of the class actions by the Moushoom group and the Assembly of First Nations group; and (d) for the Court’s permission to start a proposed class action for Jordan’s Class of 1991-2007 and their families.
  • July 27, 2020: The Plaintiffs served their Fourth Supplementary Motion Record in response to documents filed by Canada.
  • March 11, 2020: The Plaintiffs served their Third Supplementary Motion Record in response to documents filed by Canada.
  • February 28, 2020: The Plaintiffs served additional documents on Canada in support of the motion for certification.
  • January 29, 2020: The Federal Court ordered a four day hearing of the proposed certification motion on September 14, 2020, in Montreal. Click here to read the Order of Madam Justice St-Louis.
  • May 28, 2019: The Honourable Justice St.-Louis granted the plaintiff’s motion to amend the Statement of Claim, add a second plaintiff, and appoint a litigation guardian for him. You can find a copy of the Court’s Order here and the Amended Statement of Claim here.
  • March 4, 2019: Statement of Claim was issued.
Documents
Contacts

David Sterns

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Mohsen Seddigh

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Patricia Julian Son

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