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Indigenous Canadians launch class action litigation in Ontario

There are some injustices committed that are difficult to define under the Criminal Code, or Ontario provincial law. However, just because an allegedly unjust action cannot be clearly labelled a crime, that doesn't make it any less wrong in the eyes of the victims. In a case like this, class action litigation may be the only course of action available. 

For many decades, Canadian child welfare workers removed indigenous children from their homes and placed them with foster families across the country, and even overseas. A group of approximately 16,000 men and women who were displaced from Ontario reservations between 1965 and 1984 filed a class action suit against the government. They were seeking damages for the loss of their identity and the ensuing health and mental problems that caused.

Though the suit took nearly 10 years to wade through, an Ontario court recently ruled in favour of the plaintiffs. The damages sought totalled $1.3 billion, though the final settlement remains to be determined. On the heels of this victory, a new suit, this time for $600 million, was filed in Toronto on behalf of all Aboriginal children who were forcibly placed with non-indigenous families.

Some injustices cannot be righted by sentencing a perpetrator to jail. In fact, there may not even be an identifiable crime, or a specific law, that was broken. Class action litigation can sometimes begin to set right a wrong that is difficult to categorize. Such actions are not simple to organize, and stand the best chance of success when prepared with the help of a highly skilled lawyer experienced with similar cases.

Source:, "Canada's indigenous children seek justice for their stolen childhoods", Jillian Kestler-D'Amours, March 6, 2017

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