TORONTO, ON (Feb 2, 2017) --- Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says that the federal government’s willingness to negotiate an end to the Sixties Scoop claim is a positive sign. However, they must acknowledge to the survivors and to Canada that they have a duty to protect the cultural identity of Indigenous children.
Yesterday, INAC Minister Carolyn Bennett announced that the federal government wants to negotiate claims resulting from the Sixties Scoop, in which thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in non-Indigenous homes.
“The practices of the child welfare system during the period associated with the Sixties Scoop are an ongoing source of great trauma for the Indigenous community,” said Regional Chief Isadore Day. “The current despair felt in far too many of our communities is a direct result of having children taken from their families.”
The $1.3 billion class action lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada was filed in 2009, on behalf of Marcia Brown, Chief of Beaver House First Nation.
The lawsuit alleges the federal government – with constitutional responsibility, principally through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada– committed “cultural genocide” by delegating child welfare services to Ontario. Approximately 16,000 at-risk Indigenous children in Ontario suffered a devastating loss of identity when they were placed in non-Indigenous homes from 1965 to 1984 under terms of a federal-provincial agreement.
“I want to lift up Chief Marcia Brown, the representative plaintiff in the lawsuit who led this charge with passion and determination on behalf of the thousands of survivors across the country. Minister Bennett stated that this is a ‘dark and painful chapter’ in Canadian history that needs to be resolved in order to advance healing and reconciliation. We know that much more healing needs to take place not only for the survivors, but for their children and grandchildren,” said Regional Chief Day.
“If this government is truly committed to reconciling its horrible historic treatment of Indigenous peoples, then the upcoming federal budget must contain sufficient funding and resources to address a multitude of urgent needs: We need to address the ongoing suicide crisis with mental wellness programming. We need to break the cycle of poverty and despair with the necessary infrastructure for good homes and clean water. First Nation lives are not lines in a budget or dollar amounts in a lawsuit. All we need are the necessary resources to create happy and healthy communities in order to finally secure our rightful place in Canada.”