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Deadline looms for Sixties Scoop survivors

Masha Scheele

Indigenous children taken from their families and placed with non-indigenous caretakers between the 1950s and 1990s – referred to as the Sixties Scoop – have won compensation from the federal government.

An information session about the Sixties Scoop class action settlement took place July 22 in Hinton, hosted by Collectiva, the class-action services company. The session was part of a cross-country tour to assist members in completing their claim forms before the August 30 deadline.

Two locals attended the session in Hinton that was part of a second round of sessions throughout Canada requested by the lawyers in the settlement, said Mélanie Vincent, project manager of Collectiva.

“We still get calls and requests from individuals for help, not everyone has the means or time to show up at sessions so they ask us directly for help, information and support,” she added.

Although the number of people affected by the scoop in unknown, 17,000 claims have been made so far throughout Canada that still need to be assessed for eligibility, 

Jennifer Kelley from the Hinton Friendship Centre stated that not as many people in this area would be affected by the Sixties Scoop settlement as they would be by the Indian Day Schools class action.

The Government of Canada established and operated more than 700 Indian Day Schools, starting in 1920, and Northern Affairs Canada estimate close to 200,000 Indigenous children attended these schools.

These students would be sent back home to their own families after each school day, but many who attended experienced trauma at the hands of individuals entrusted with their care, added Kelley.

A proposed settlement agreement was announced this spring to resolve the national Indian Day Schools class action outside of the courts.Kelley added that any indigenous person who attended these schools is eligible, but they must retell the trauma caused by the day schools to receive compensation.

The Sixties Scoop settlement was approved on August 9, 2018 by the Ontario Superior Court and the Federal Court, concerning any registered Indian or person eligible to be registered, or Inuit person who was adopted and placed in the care of non-Indigenous foster or adoptive parents in Canada between January 1, 1951 and December 31, 1991 resulting in the loss of cultural identity. Eligible class members could receive compensation from the government between $25,000 and $50,000, depending on the overall number of people to claim compensation, according to the class action document.

The compensation package is part of an $800 million deal between survivors and the federal government, stated Vincent. That settlement offered $750 million to split between roughly 20,000 survivors, and $50 million to set up an Indigenous Healing Fund, said Vincent. Any unclaimed settlement money will go towards the foundation. 

The Indigenous Healing Fund will provide healing services for survivors and enables survivors, their families and communities to be involved in determining the governance of the foundation and its work.

The lawsuits argue that Indian and Inuit children who were victims of the Sixties Scoop lost their cultural identity and suffered psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and physically. 

These individuals were also deprived of their status, their aboriginal and treaty rights and monetary benefits to which they were entitled.

According to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, those affected by the Sixties Scoop identify the loss of culture and language as among the greatest harm they suffered.

Once the fund is established, the services of the Foundation will be available to all Indigenous people impacted by the Sixties Scoop and their families.

For more info on these settlements or to get help filling out forms, contact the Friendship Centre at (780) 865-5189 or call Collectiva for help with the Sixties Scoop at 1-844-287-4270