A long-awaited ‘60s Scoop compensation package is being met with anger and confusion.
“Government is getting off on the cheap,” said Ernie Crey, a chief of the Sto:lo Nation in B.C. “It should have been in the billions.”
The settlement announced Friday morning in Ottawa is capped at $800 million. It applies only to treaty and status Indians who will receive between $25,000 and $50,000 each for being “scooped” from their homes and placed with white families beginning in the 1960s.
Crey leaked details of the deal to APTN News last week. He predicted it would anger some survivors and he was right.
Annette Francis was on the ground as the announcement was made – watch here:
“If they start to exclude people then they have created a bigger genocide,” said Sandra Lukowich, who was adopted by strangers in Saskatchewan at the age of two.
“My mom used to scrub my knees as they grew dark with age.”
Jayson Fleury of Alberta says the deal will create division among Indigenous peoples. He was seized as a baby but has been able to reconnect with his community.
“I do not agree with these latest developments,” he said in a telephone interview.
Along with personal and cultural alienation, some of the country’s 20,000 scoop survivors say they were mentally, physically and sexually abused. Some took their own lives.
“I’ve lost younger siblings to the ‘60s Scoop. They are dead as a consequence,” said Crey, whose entire family grew up in white homes. “My stomach is churning and I am left feeling angry that government and the lawyers would basically conspire to sneak this deal through.”
Saskatchewan lawyer Tony Merchant signed up thousands of ‘60s Scoop claimants across Canada. He says this is only the first step.
“Merchant Law will now continue the 10 lawsuits in each of the provinces to obtain compensation for sexual and physical abuse to which many of these survivors were subject,” he said in a statement to APTN. “(We will also seek) additional compensation for loss of culture, and compensation for Metis and non-status Indians for whom Canada has no responsibility.”
Merchant says the package was reached between four law firms and Justice Michel Shore of the Federal
Court. Future negotiation meetings are already scheduled into 2018, he added.
“The contracts, treaties, and fairness, the right to culture, and damages when that right is taken away is the basis of this settlement,” said the statement.
Crey lobbed his harshest criticism at national Indigenous organizations, whom he said weren’t even at the negotiating table.
“I am disappointed with the major Indigenous groups who’ve only given this issue lip service,” he said, “passing toothless resolutions at their meetings and feeling good about themselves.”