Alberta ’60s Scoop survivors say settlement a good start, but some families still torn apart

Click to play video: '$750M settlement announced for ’60s Scoop survivors'
$750M settlement announced for ’60s Scoop survivors
WATCH ABOVE: The federal government will pay $750 million to Indigenous children who were taken from their homes, sometimes right after birth, and placed with non-Indigenous families, robbing them of their cultural identity, and connection to family. David Akin reports – Oct 6, 2017

The settlement announced Friday by the federal government for ’60s Scoop survivors is being seen as a positive step forward for some Albertans who were affected.

The agreement in principle sets aside $750 million in compensation for Indigenous kids who were taken from their families and placed in non-Indigenous homes.

Watch below: Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said Friday that the $750-million payout to victims of the 60s Scoop represented an “important first step” in remedying the ongoing controversy.

Click to play video: 'Bennett: Payout for ’60’s Scoop’ victims is an ‘important first step’'
Bennett: Payout for ’60’s Scoop’ victims is an ‘important first step’

President of the ’60s Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta and survivor himself, Adam North Peigan, told 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen now that the compensation is being taken care of, everyone can start to move foward.

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“An apology begins the reconciliation, and what needs to happen in reconciliation is we need the opportunity to bring our ’60s Scoop survivors together in Alberta to create a safe environment for them to share their stories.”

READ MORE: What was the ‘60s Scoop’? Aboriginal children taken from homes a dark chapter in Canada’s history

Mary Jane had four kids taken from her in the 1970s and ’80s. She says her family was torn apart and hasn’t recovered.

“I’ve no more contact with them because they’re still very angry. And I’m very angry because I went through my whole life [without them], even though I gave them birth.

Her kids will qualify for the settlement, but that will do little to repair the damage that has been done.

“The social worker said that I was dead, so they believed it. To them, I’m still dead. So I guess that’s the way it is.”

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North Peigan said while you can’t put a number on the suffering that he and other have gone through, it is good to see some acknowledgement that it was wrong.

“It’s an acknowledgement and it’s recognition for what we had to endure after the residential schools closed.”

He’s been working with the Alberta government on an official apology that is expected to be issued in the spring session of the legislature in 2018.

Steven Cooper, a lawyer involved with the ’60s Scoop Alberta class action lawsuit, called the settlement very reasonable.

“The federal government in this instance has agreed to be reasonable range of payments and did so in time sensitive and understanding fashion,” Cooper wrote in an email to Global News. “This settlement is in stark contrast to the last decade of litigation on Indigenous issues in that the government was willing to listen early on and negotiated in good faith throughout.”

Cooper suggested Canada “struck a good balance between the interest of the taxpayer and the interest of the victims.”

“What we know from previous settlements of this nature is that money changes nothing, but it is tangible acknowledgement that validates the experience of the victims.”

“The existence of the settlement is often more important to victims than its content.”

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Alberta Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan said he was pleased a settlement had been reached and emphasized the provincial government would continue to work on advancing reconciliation.

“We will continue our work with survivors and a range of Indigenous leaders to listen to them and discuss how and when an apology can take place,” Feehan said in a statement. “An apology must be thoughtful and be done in direct consultation with survivors. We will engage and listen to them as we discuss the best way to move forward.”

With files from Global’s Julia Wong

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