Canadian survivors, supporters rally against proposed ’60s Scoop settlement

Some have accused the government of underestimating the number of survivors

Mista Wasis recalls dreaming of the family he could barely remember after the government forced him from his community as a child and into a non-Indigenous home during the ’60s Scoop.

“I couldn’t make out what they were saying. But I know now what they were talking was our native language,” Wasis, 53, said Friday about his childhood dreams.

“I prayed to live to be six years old. I thought, if I can make it to school, that’s all I need. That’s all. Then, God, you can take me,” he said. “I died many times.”

Decades later, Wasis has been reunited with his Cree community in the Prairies and has vowed to help the thousands of other ’60s Scoop survivors still lost and grappling with their own unresolved trauma.

Wasis was one of a handful of survivors who spoke Friday at a rally in Ottawa, part of a string of demonstrations held in cities across the country pushing back against a proposed settlement that advocates say unfairly excludes many Indigenous people who were taken from their families and forcibly adopted.

Organizers with the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network, who arranged the day of solidarity, said the settlement was reached without meaningful consultation with survivors.

“We have a lot of Metis brothers and sisters and non-status (Indian) people who are left out of this settlement who went through the same experiences as us,” said Colleen Cardinal, the network’s co-founder and herself a survivor.

“We are here today for them in solidarity.”

The ’60s Scoop saw the federal government take thousands of Indigenous children from their homes and place them with non-Indigenous foster families across Canada and beyond.

In October, the government announced it had reached a $750-million settlement with about 20,000 survivors, some of whom were moved as far away as New Zealand, between 1951 and 1991. The agreement has yet to be finalized and includes an additional $50 million for a new Indigenous Healing Foundation.

The office of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said in a statement that the government is committed to negotiating to resolve any ongoing litigation and the proposed settlement is a first step.

“The ’60s Scoop is a dark and painful chapter in Canada’s history,” Bennett said. ”We know that there are other claims that remain unresolved, including those of the Metis and non-status.”

The network has accused the government of underestimating the number of survivors and also takes issue with the decision to pay four law firms a total of $75 million to oversee the settlement.

Director Duane Morrisseau-Beck, who is also a survivor, said the organization will continue to raise the issue until all everyone affected by the ’60s Scoop is included.

“As a Metis from Winnipeg, from Manitoba, this day for me means that we need to be able to raise our voices and say that we need to be included,” he said.

Demonstrations were scheduled Friday in seven other cities, including Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Whitehorse.

Elder Verna McGregor welcomed the gathering on unceded Algonquin territory in the Ottawa region, which includes Parliament Hill.

“We’re in the middle of sugar season — maple syrup,” McGregor said. “The running of the sap, it represents rebirth, that new life. But also, it’s a reminder after a long winter.

“For us as Anishinaabe, we’re coming out of a long winter after all these policies that were done here on Turtle Island,” she said, using a traditional First Nations term for North America.

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Swain will move over to mayor’s chair in Lantzville

Mark Swain and councillors Jamie Wilson, Karen Proctor, Ian Savage and Will Geselbracht elected

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

WEB POLL: How do you feel about the new city council Nanaimo has elected?

City of Nanaimo votes in its next municipal government

ELECTION DAY: Krog voted in as Nanaimo’s next mayor

Hemmens, Armstrong, Geselbracht, Brown, Turley, Bonner, Thorpe and Maartman elected as councillors

ELECTION DAY: Krog voted in as Nanaimo’s next mayor

Hemmens, Armstrong, Geselbracht, Brown, Turley, Bonner, Thorpe and Maartman elected as councillors

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

Leaving B.C.’s electoral reform to a referendum is ‘ridiculous’: professor

B.C. voters getting ballots in the mail on proposal to change electoral system

Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

The Saudi government claimed Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a ‘fistfight’

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

When to vote, where to vote, how to vote

Voting day is Oct. 20, with polls open 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

One year to election: Trudeau Liberals gear up for tussles on climate, premiers

Analysts say that the Liberals have reason to be ‘fairly confident’

Most Read