Walters and David v Her Majesty the Queen

What is this claim about?

Murphy Battista LLP and Gowling WLG have filed a proposed class action against the Government of Canada (“Canada”) concerning the apprehension of Indigenous children and youth, living off-reserve, by child welfare agencies, and their placement in the care of individuals who were not members of their Indigenous community, group or people.

This proposed class action alleges that Canada failed to take reasonable steps to protect and preserve the aboriginal identity of the Indigenous children and youth who were apprehended. Canada denied Indigenous children and youth any reasonable opportunity to maintain connections to the language and territory of the Indigenous community, group or people to which they belonged. Canada’s actions also denied Indigenous peoples’ their inherent right to jurisdiction over child and family services. This lawsuit alleges that Canada should have taken steps to safeguard the wellbeing of apprehended Indigenous youth and children and ensure that Indigenous youth and children, and their families, were advised of any federal financial benefits to which they may have been entitled; this lawsuit alleges that Canada failed to do so. This conduct was systemic, lasted for decades, and eradicated the language, culture, and heritage of Metis, Inuit, and Status and Non-Status Indian (First Nations) children and youth in care. The parents and grandparents of apprehended children and youth were also harmed; in my cases, these parents and grandparents never saw their children and grandchildren again.

This proposed class action alleges that as a result of Canada’s policies, practices, acts and omissions, Indigenous children and youth lost their aboriginal identity – including their Indigenous language, heritage, spirituality, and traditions – were deprived of their aboriginal and treaty rights, were deprived of federal financial benefits, were subject to forced cultural assimilation, and suffered psychological, emotional, and spiritual harm. The parents and grandparents of these children lost the ability to pass their culture and aboriginal identity on to their children.

This action seeks damages for Indigenous children and youth who were apprehended from their families by child welfare agencies, while living off-reserve, between January 1, 1992 and December 31, 2019 and placed in the care of individuals who were not members of their Indigenous community, group, or people, as well as for their families. The goal of this lawsuit is to compensate these children and their families for their losses, vindicate their rights, and deter future violations of these rights by Canada and other state actors. This proposed class action does not include Indigenous children and youth who were apprehended while living on-reserve, who are instead class members in another proposed class action styled as Moushoon and Meawasige (by his litigation guardian, Beadle) v The Attorney General of Canada.

Who does this class action affect?

You are a class member in this proposed class action if:

  1. You are a First Nations (Status or Non-Status Indian), Inuit, or Metis person who was removed from their home in Canada, off-reserve, between January 1, 1992 and December 31, 2019 and placed in the care of individuals who were not part of the Indigenous community, group, or people to which you belonged (“Primary Class Member”).
  2. You are the parent or grandparent of a Primary Class Member (“Family Class Member”).

Current Status

The Statement of Claim, initiating this proposed class action, was filed in the Federal Court on June 10, 2020. An Amended Statement of Claim was filed on January 14, 2021.

A certification hearing is expected to take place in December 2021. Please check back here for updates.

Who are the lawyers?

This class action is being pursued by a team of lawyers at Murphy Battista LLP (led by Angela Bespflug, Janelle O’Connor, and Elizabeth Emery) and Gowling WLG (led by Aaron Christoff, Keith Brown, and Maxime Faille).

What should I do if I have been affected?

Please contact us by submitting the form below. A member of the legal team handling this action will contact you and you will be added to our database and kept apprised of developments.

Questions?

If you have questions or would like to be included in our database of class members and kept apprised of developments, please email us at [email protected].

Form

Indigenous Child Welfare Class Action Form

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