’60s Scoop Group Educates Survivors, Pushes Rejection of Federal Settlement Deal

Colleen Cardinal, network coordinator of the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network, speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Feb. 2, 2018. CP/Fred Chartrand

Dozens of people gathered in an Ottawa community centre Monday to learn more about the federal government’s proposed multimillion-dollar settlement for survivors of the ’60s Scoop — and why they should reject it.

The National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network arranged the information session to scrutinize the $800-million deal, which was announced last October but has yet to receive court approval.

“There are so many things that are wrong with this,” network co-founded Colleen Cardinal told the gathering, made up in part of survivors and supporters.

“It’s really important that this information gets out there, by survivors for survivors,” she said. “The federal government is not going to make sure that every survivor knows what their rights are. Our mission is to get out there and let people know what is happening.”

The ’60s Scoop saw thousands of Indigenous children taken from their homes by the federal government and placed with non-Indigenous adoptive and foster families across the country starting around the 1950s.

The government’s compensation proposal includes $50 million for an Indigenous Healing Foundation.

Cardinal denounced the deal, saying the federal government should have first asked survivors what they wanted.

“They don’t even know how many survivors there are,” Cardinal said, disputing the estimated $20,000 to $50,000 payment per person.

Cardinal also criticized the settlement for excluding survivors who are Metis and non-status Indians.

The office of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has said the proposed settlement is a first step and the government is committed to using negotiation to resolve any ongoing litigation.

“We know that there are other claims that remain unresolved, including those of the Metis and non-status,” she said a statement from her office.

An Ontario Superior Court judge will hear arguments in Saskatoon and Toronto in May on whether the proposal should be approved.

If the settlement is allowed to proceed, the network will push for at least 2,000 survivors to opt out in an effort to void the deal.

But the government could still push ahead regardless of how many people say they don’t want to be part of the settlement, lawyer Brian Meronek told the gathering.

There is also no guarantee that provinces won’t revoke income assistance payments if someone becomes ineligible after receiving a settlement payout, said Meronek, who represents a group in Manitoba that opposes the settlement.

Cardinal and other organizers have warned survivors to be wary after hearing reports of some lawyers offering to help navigate the settlement in exchange for exploitative contingency fees.

The network is a survivor-led organization based in Ottawa founded in 2014 that offers information and support for survivors. The group has 300 members, and Cardinal said it reaches thousands more online, through its toll-free number and via presentations and gatherings.

The network is also involved in two research projects, the first by Raven Sinclair at the University of Regina about the experience of the ’60s Scoop survivors, using interviews and archival research.

The second is a geographic information system that maps the diaspora of survivors, including their origins and where they were placed.

The Canadian Press, Feb 19, 2018

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Reader Submission 

Government to Announce Payout of $800M to Indigenous Victims of ’60s Scoop

Government to announce payout of $800M to Indigenous victims of ’60s Scoop

Sources say the agreement includes a payout of between $25,000 and $50,000 for each claimant.

The federal government has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to survivors of the ‘60s Scoop for the harm suffered by Indigenous children who were robbed of their cultural identities by being placed with non-native families, The Canadian Press has learned.

The national settlement with an estimated 20,000 victims, to be announced Friday by Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, is aimed at resolving numerous related lawsuits, most notable among them a successful class action in Ontario.

Confidential details of the agreement include a payout of between $25,000 and $50,000 for each claimant, to a maximum of $750 million, sources said.

In addition, sources familiar with the deal said the government would set aside a further $50 million for a new Indigenous Healing Foundation, a key demand of the representative plaintiff in Ontario, Marcia Brown Martel.

Spokespeople for both Bennett and the plaintiffs would only confirm an announcement was pending Friday, but refused to elaborate.

“The (parties) have agreed to work towards a comprehensive resolution and discussions are in progress,” Bennett’s office said in a statement on Thursday. “As the negotiations are ongoing and confidential, we cannot provide further information at this time.”

The sources said the government has also agreed to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees — estimated at about $75 million — separately, meaning the full amount of the settlement will go to the victims and the healing centre, to be established in the coming months, sources said.

The settlement would be worth at least $800 million and include Inuit victims, the sources said. The final amount is less than the $1.3 billion Brown Martel had sought for victims of the Ontario Scoop in which at-risk on-reserve Indigenous children were placed in non-Aboriginal homes from 1965 to 1984 under terms of a federal-provincial agreement.

In an unprecedented class action begun in 2009, Brown Martel, chief of the Beaverhouse First Nation, maintained the government had been negligent in protecting her and about 16,000 other on-reserve children from the lasting harm they suffered from being alienated from their heritage.

Brown Martel, a member of the Temagami First Nation near Kirkland Lake, Ont., was taken by child welfare officials and adopted by a non-native family. She later discovered the Canadian government had declared her original identity dead.

Her lawsuit, among some 17 others in Canada, is the only one to have been certified as a class action. Her suit sparked more than eight years of litigation in which the government fought tooth and nail against the claim.

However, in February, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba sided with Brown Martel, finding the government liable for the harm the ‘60s Scoop caused. Belobaba was firm in rejecting the government’s arguments that the 1960s were different times and that it had acted with good intentions in line with prevailing standards.

While Bennett said at the time she would not appeal the ruling and hoped for a negotiated settlement with all affected Indigenous children, federal lawyers appeared to be trying to get around Belobaba’s ruling. Among other things, they attempted to argue individuals would have to prove damages on a case-by-case basis.

A court hearing to determine damages in the Ontario action, scheduled for three days next week, has been scrapped in light of the negotiated resolution, which took place under Federal Court Judge Michel Shore.

One source said some aspects of the many claims might still have to be settled but called Friday’s announcement a “significant” step toward resolving the ‘60s Scoop issue — part of the Liberal government’s promise under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people a priority.

Jeffery Wilson, one of Brown Martel’s lawyers, has previously said the class action was the first anywhere to recognize the importance of a person’s cultural heritage and the individual harm caused when it is lost.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]