Toronto (Dec 2, 2016) --- Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says that the Chiefs of Ontario stand in solidarity with the survivors of the Sixties Scoop class action suit against the federal government and will continue to support and help move the case forward until there is full reconciliation and satisfaction for the survivors.
“The practices of the child welfare system during the period associated with the Sixties Scoop are a source of great trauma for the Indigenous community, the reverberations of which are still felt in our community today. Finding resolution and justice in the courts will be a vital step in terms of recovery and healing in our community,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “We are not going to stop until there is closure for the survivors, the families and the ones we lost during this dark period of Canadian history and where the federal government continues to deny its responsibility to the generations of our people affected by this colonization tactic.”
The federal government pressed an Ontario Superior Court justice on Friday to dismiss a landmark $1.3-billion class action, filed on behalf of thousands of those survivors in 2009, that argues Canada failed to protect cultural heritage with devastating consequences. The decision will be heard at a later date.
The key issue in this case is the federal government ignored an obligation to consult with Indigenous leaders, families and the community about placements of our children and did nothing for the children after they were taken from their homes, said Regional Chief Day.
“The staggering rate of Indigenous homelessness, the over-representation of Indigenous people in Canada’s prisons system and the crushing poverty in our communities are a result of federal government sanctioned actions like the Sixties Scoop and the residential school system,” Regional Chief Day said.
The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published last December noted that "the effects of the residential school experience and the Sixties Scoop have adversely affected parenting skills and the success of many Aboriginal families." According to a 2011 Statistics Canada study, 14,225 or 3.6 per cent of all First Nations children aged 14 and under were in foster care, compared with 15,345 or 0.3 per cent of non-Aboriginal children.
The Sixties Scoop refers to a period of two decades between the 60’s and the 80’s during which child welfare policy in Canada caused for the unjustified removal of approximately 16,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children from their homes and subsequent insertion into foster or adoptive care.
The lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada was filed in 2009, on behalf of Chief Marcia Brown of Beaver House First Nation. The claim alleges the federal government – with constitutional responsibility, principally through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada– committed “cultural genocide” by delegating child welfare services to Ontario.
“We are now living in an era of Reconciliation, along with a new nation-to-nation relationship with this federal government,” added Ontario Regional Chief Day. “I trust that this dark chapter in our shared history will soon be closed to the satisfaction of those who were stolen from their families and communities.”