Canada To Pay Sixties Scoop Victim $800 Million Compensation
The Canadian government has agreed to pay up to 800 Canadian Dollars as compensation for the thousands of aboriginals who were extracted from their families as children many decades ago. The children were forcibly adopted by non-indigenous families – a move geared towards eliminating the aboriginal culture.
The decision by the Liberal government of Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is an attempt to mend the severed relationship with the often marginalized indigenous population. The indigenous population has often accused Canada of systemic racism for centuries.
Between the 1960s and 1980s, child welfare agencies forcibly extracted about twenty thousands of aboriginal children from their homes and placed them in foster care or put them up for adoption by non-indigenous families.
Carolyn Bennett, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister said the agreement will see the government pay C$750 as direct compensation while another C$50 will be channelled to an Indigenous Healing Foundation with a counselling, education, and healing mandate. Tearful Ms. Bennett in describing the agreement said,
“Language and culture, apology, healing – these are essential elements to begin to right the wrong of this dark and painful chapter.”
A further C$75 will be used to settle many of the lawsuits filed by the survivors who claimed the forced removal from their homes caused them mental disorder, led them to substance abuse, suicide, and denied them of their heritage.
Canadian aboriginal population is about 1.4 million and make up about 4 per cent of the entire population. They experience elevated levels of poverty which also lower their life expectancy compared to other Canadians. They are also often victims of addiction and violent crime.
It can be recalled that in February, an Ontario court sided with the indigenous plaintiffs in a “Sixties Scoop” class-action lawsuit against the Canadian government. A compensation hearing was slated for 11 October but the lead claimant, an aboriginal chief, Marcia Brown Martel, opted for an adjournment to pursue pan-Canadian agreement discussion with the government. Martel noted that some of the forcibly stolen children lived as far as New Zealand.
“Think of it as a puzzle, a great big puzzle. Pieces, people are missing. It was important to me that we got recognition and justice, not just for some, but for as many people as possible,” she said.
Indigenous activists have accused Trudeau of neglect and repeated broken promises to improve the lives of the aboriginals since coming into office in 2015. In August, Trudeau reshuffled his cabinet to put more emphasis on helping aboriginal people.
Trudeau and other Canadian leaders have apologized to the aboriginals for the abuses committed over a 150-year period involving the forcible separation of over 150,000 aboriginal children from their parents and sent to church-run residential schools.
An official report released in 2015 revealed that the schools were an attempt to get rid of aboriginals as distinct cultural, legal, racial, religious, and social entities in Canada. From the 1980s, the provinces in Canada began to change their adoption policies after the indigenous leaders lamented it was a form of “cultural genocide”.