Power & PoliticsCBC SecureDrop Ottawa announces $800M settlement with Indigenous survivors of Sixties Scoop
Thousands of First Nations children placed in non-Indigenous care to be compensated
CBC News, by John Paul Tasker, CBC News, on Oct 05, 2017
The Canadian government has reached an agreement in principle with survivors of the Sixties Scoop worth some $800 million, Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett announced Friday morning, putting an end to years of fractious legal action.
She said the move will “begin to right the wrongs” caused by forcibly removing Indigenous children from their birth families.
“They have lived their lives not being able to be proud Indigenous people,” Bennett said of the then children who were adopted out of their home communities. “They have lived their lives not having secure personal cultural identity. That was robbed away. Someone thought that a non-Indigenous family somewhere else in the world was going to do a better job.”
Indigenous survivors from as far away as Scotland, northern California, and many places in between, were on hand for the landmark announcement Friday.
Bennett said a final agreement still has to be reached, but the government has set aside $750 million for individual compensation. They’ve earmarked another $50 million for a foundation dedicated to reconciliation initiatives.
All First Nations and Inuit children who were removed from their homes — and lost their cultural identities as a result — between 1951 and 1991 are entitled to compensation. If there are more than 20,000 claimants, each individual will receive a payout of $25,000 and if there are fewer than 20,000 each claimant will receive up to a maximum of $50,000.
The government is putting aside an additional $75 million for legal fees.
Bennett said the government secured a commitment from lawyers that they wouldn’t go back to survivors demanding more money, a solution designed to avoid one of the major pitfalls of the Indian residential school settlement in which many students faced huge legal bills after receiving their compensation.
The federal government has retained most adoption records, and Crown wardship and temporary wardship records, while harder to get, are usually held by the respective provinces. Those documents will be used to validate a claim. (A “ward” is a child placed under protection of a legal guardian, but who remains the legal responsibility of the government.)
Eight-year court battle
In February, after an eight-year court battle, an Ontario Superior Court judge found the federal government failed to prevent on-reserve children from losing their Indigenous identity after they were forcibly taken from their homes as part of what’s known as the Sixties Scoop.
Thousands of First Nations children were placed in non-Indigenous care between 1965 and 1984, which resulted in psychological harm that has dogged survivors into adulthood, Justice Edward Belobaba wrote in his ruling.
Belobaba said Canada breached its “duty of care” to the children and ignored the damaging effects of the Ontario-led program.
There are lawsuits in other jurisdictions over similar programs that placed children in foster care or with adoptive parents.
Read the complete article at CBC.