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Murray Sinclair to chair negotiations on federal compensation for First Nations kids

The former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada will aide talks between the federal government and child-welfare advocates in hopes of securing an agreement to compensate First Nations children.

PHOTO: Sen. Murray Sinclair appears before the Senate Committe on Aboriginal Peoples in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 28, 2019. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

OTTAWA – Sen. Sinclair, the former chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who was also the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba, is going back to his legal roots.

The former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada will aide talks between the federal government and child-welfare advocates in hopes of securing an agreement to compensate First Nations children.

The Liberal government says Murray Sinclair will chair discussions between the sides as they try to settle the matter outside of court by the end of December.

Sinclair, a former senator, led the commission that investigated the experiences of Indigenous children sent to residential schools and is a highly respected voice on matters of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

His new role comes after the federal government appealed a Federal Court ruling last month upholding orders for it to pay $40,000 each to thousands of individual First Nations children who were removed from their homes.

The compensation stemmed from an earlier finding by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that Ottawa discriminated against First Nations kids by knowingly underfunding child and family services on reserves.

It also ruled that the government needed to expand its criteria of Jordan’s Principle, a measure stipulating that jurisdictional disputes should not get in the way of providing services to First Nations children.

The parties in the case include the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

β€œI’m very optimistic that we’ll be able to have an agreed-upon solution in the time frame that we’ve set,” Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu told The Canadian Press in an interview Wednesday.

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