In October of 2017, the federal Government of Canada reached a settlement with the First Nations victims of the “Sixties Scoop.” The program gained its nickname when child welfare agencies removed thousands of indigenous children from their communities primarily in the 60’s and placed them with foster families or adopting families.
After years of trying to fight against the Canadian federal government, Lead claimant Chief Marcia Brown Martel won a massive victory when the court awarded a payout of $800 million Canadian / $635 million American, to about 20,000 victims.
Many of the victims had fled to the United States, claimants to this case are being sought today. Though this settlement is not finalized, it is currently an agreement of intention.
In 1967, Beaverhouse First Nation Chief Marcia Brown Martel was four years old when strangers who did not speak her language gathered her and her sister and took them away in a boat to live her childhood in Foster Care.
She had no idea why she was taken and her family was told she had a disability and would be better off in government care. Chief Marcia Brown Martel was one of approximately 20,000 victims of the ‘Sixties Scoop.”
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Chief Martel talked about how for five years she lived in 10 different foster homes in northern and central Ontario. She was a victim of abuse, “I wondered if a person could hit me to the point I would die, I was this little person, alone in the world … Nobody wanted me,” she said.
She was later separated from her sister because officials said her sister did not want to live in the same house with her she eventually went to a family for adoption but was received with disdain. Her adopted mother wanted a girl who would wear dresses, but Martel chose the safety of being a tomboy, “because I know what happens to pretty girls,” said Martel.
Martel lived a life of physical abuse and her bruises were never questioned at school. At 18, she became pregnant and was living in Texas with her adoptive mother. She was taken to an airport and handed a plane ticket to Canada.
She made her way back to her community and finally felt acceptance amidst her community.
She learned her culture and was eventually elected to the tribal council. As a “Sixties Scoop” survivor, she launched a lawsuit with another victim in 2009. In 2011, she became chief of the Beaverhouse First Nation.
In February of 2017, an Ontario court ruled in favor with the indigenous plaintiffs in the “Sixties Scoop” class-action lawsuit. There was a compensation hearing set for October 11th, 2017, but the Canadian Government opted to settle on October 6th, 2017 to resolve the arguments of the plaintiffs who stated they “suffered emotional, psychological, and spiritual harm from the broken connection to their heritage.”
“It was important to me that we got recognition and justice, not just for some, but for as many people as possible,” Martel said in an article by the BBC.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said in the BBC article the agreement reached in principle will see $750m spent on direct compensation and another $50m spent to fund an Indigenous Healing Foundation with a counselling, healing and education mandate.
Referring to the “Sixties Scoop” thousands of native children were removed from their families between 1965 and 1984, and were placed with non-native foster parents or adoptive parents into homes across Canada, the US, UK, Australia and other countries.There are an estimated 16,000 indigenous children in Ontario that were taken from their families.
Though the agreement is the first step in resolving the “Sixties Scoop” litigation, many victims are still being sought to come forward.
Under the settlement, First Nations and Inuit children who were taken from their homes between 1951 and 1991 will be eligible for personal compensation.
The amount will range from about $20,000 to $40,000 for each person. Depending on how many claims are filed, it could add up to a total of $600m.
How to seek INFORMATION ONLY regarding compensation and / or support as a “Sixties Scoop” survivor. The NISCW is not the party issuing compensation
Colleen Cardinal, (Plains Cree from Saddle Lake Cree Nation) one of the co-founders of the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCW) told Indian Country Today that the NISCW is a great resource for those seeking compensation and / or support as a “Sixties Scoop” survivor. She asked Indian Country Today to note the NISCW is NOT the agency compensating victims, but they have information for victims seeking compensation from Canada.
In addition to offering services such as leadership, support and advocacy for those affected by Indigenous child removal systems in Canada, the NISCW is currently offering specific “Sixties Scoop” information.
The contact information for the NISCW is as follows:
There is also a toll free number (1-866-456-6060) if needed but the NISCW organizers have asked those who only need it to use it as they have to pay for the calls, however they said they don’t mind offering the toll-free option.
According to the NISCW website:
The peer support line will provide listening and support services to Indigenous 60s scoop survivors who experienced displacement, loss of culture, due to being adopted or fostered in non-Indigenous households across Canada and the U.S.A.
The peer support line will provide safe, respectful and non-judgemental confidential listening. It will link survivors to approved services across Canada to support their emotional, cultural, spiritual and mental needs.
- Providing direction on how to access government information related to their adoption and other government documentation.
- Provide direction to support their repartition efforts that include finding families and communities.
- Provide information and direction on how to attain Indigenous programs and services, Treaty Indian Cards, Metis memberships and Nunavut land claim agreement services for Inuit peoples.
- Provide one-on-one talks with survivors to listen to stories, connect them with other survivors, or Sixties Scoop organizations across Canada.
For more information on the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network visit www.NISCW.org.
— Nat60sScoopSurvDay (@NSSSDay) November 29, 2017
Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter