Assembly of First Nations files class action lawsuit over child welfare

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde participates in the signing of the Assembly of First Nations-Canada Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The Assembly of First Nations says it's taking the federal government to court to seek damages for thousands of children and their families affected by federal child-welfare policies on reserves.

The national Indigenous group says it has filed a federal class-action lawsuit asserting that Canada's child-welfare system discriminated against First Nations kids.

AFN national chief Perry Bellegarde says the system punished children just for being First Nations, and the government caused them and their families harm and suffering.

The lawsuit follows a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision last year that the government did discriminate against Indigenous children living on reserves by not properly funding child and family services.

The tribunal ordered compensation, and while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has emphatically agreed that it's needed, his government is still challenging the ruling.

The AFN says the lawsuit is broader and covers those not included in the tribunal's decision.