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AFN chief warns lawyers may ‘take advantage’ of child-welfare settlement recipients

OTTAWA — The interim national chief of the Assembly of First Nations is urging those eligible to receive compensation from a landmark class-action settlement to be careful that lawyers do not try to take advantage of them.

Interim national chief Joanna Bernard says she’s heard about lawyers reaching out to eligible claimants to represent them after the Federal Court approved $23 billion in compensation for more than 300,000 First Nations children and their families over chronic underfunding of on-reserve child-welfare services.

Bernard says a system is in place to dole out monies, and claimants don’t need costly representation from lawyers, who she warned could try to “take advantage of our people.”

The settlement this week came more than 15 years after the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society jointly launched a human-rights complaint that sparked a years-long legal battle with the federal government.

One class-action lawyer on the case, David Sterns, says the earliest date for claimants to receive compensation would be in mid- to late-2024. 

He says that anyone who wants information about the distribution of payments and information on the claims process, can find information at the fnchildclaims.ca website.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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