The federal government has unveiled its $40-billion agreement in principle to provide compensation to First Nations children and their families harmed by an underfunded child welfare system and establish long-term reform.
As a result of the largest class action lawsuit in Canadian history, Ottawa will provide $20 billion to children on reserve and in the Yukon who were unnecessarily removed from their homes between April 1, 1991 and March 31, 2022. This extends to their parents and caregivers. Compensation will also be provided to those impacted by the narrow definition of Jordan’s Principle between Dec. 12, 2007 and Nov. 2, 2017.
Children who didn’t receive essential public services between April 1, 1991 and Dec. 11, 2007 will also be eligible for financial reparation.
The second half of the funding will go towards reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program, to be spread out over five years.
Approximately $20 billion will support young First Nations adults transitioning out of the child welfare system, as well as bolster prevention mechanisms to keep children at home, in their communities – work that’s expected to start in April, 2022.
Indigenous child welfare settlement leaves out Sixties Scoop survivors: advocate
- Ottawa secured agreements in principle to compensate First Nations children harmed by its underfunding of child welfare
- If the $40 billion agreement is approved, it would represent the largest settlement in Canadian history
- But an advocate says the cut-off dates for the potential settlement excludes Sixties Scoop survivors
While welcoming an agreement in principle to compensate children harmed by Canada’s underfunding of child welfare, an Indigenous organization says it also excludes many Indigenous people – specifically Sixties Scoop survivors.
The federal Liberal government says of the $40 billion earmarked to be spent on the matter, $20 billion will pay for compensation and the other $20 billion will be spent on reforming the system over five years.
It says First Nations children living on reserve and in the Yukon who were removed from their homes between April 1, 1991, and Mar. 21, 2022, are set to be compensated, along with their parents and caregivers.
If the agreement is approved, it would represent the largest settlement in Canadian history.
But not everyone agrees with the cut-off dates for the potential settlement.
“I feel like they could have expanded it a little bit more to include those of us taken before 1991 and those of us taken off reserve,” said Katherine Legrange, the director of 60s Scoop Legacy of Canada.
“I think overall it’s a good thing, I just wish they had consulted with Sixties Scoop survivors and our families to include us if possible.”
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The Sixties Scoop is when an estimated 20,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in non-Indigenous homes over a period of about three decades.
The Canadian government maintained it was acting in the best interests of the children.
Some survivors remain displaced and disconnected from families and their home communities to this day.
For First Nations children and families that are included in the settlement, Legrange cautions there could be a reopening of old wounds and relived traumas over the historical harms done to them.
She believes the guidance of First Nations elders and caregivers will be needed to prevent more pain as people come forward in the settlement.
“We need to, as Indigenous people, need to lead what that looks like,” said Legrange. “Have an advisory committee and figure out what’s the best way. How do we do this while mitigating the risks and harm to people?”