‘60s Scoops class action lawsuit hearings start in Saskatoon
You can see the exact second on Freda Angus face when the memories come flooding back.
At just five-years-old she was snatched up while playing outside of her family home was tossed in a van with her siblings. When she begged government workers to tell her where they were going – they didn’t understand her because it was in Cree.
“When they came and got us, seven of my brothers and sisters,” Angus sobbed.
“They took us to Onion Lake first, to white people and separated us from there.”
Between 1951 and 1991, thousands of Indigenous children throughout the country were ripped from their families and all they had ever known.
They were placed with non-Indigenous families in what would be known as the so-called ’60s Scoop.
Perry Boyko says he was taken directly from his mother’s arms in hospital and placed with a Ukrainian family, three days after he was born.
“The hardest part is not knowing your extended family, your relatives, your culture and your identity.”
He has two biological sisters he spent his childhood separated from, his father passed away before the two could met and he connected with his mom before she died.
“At first I felt anger, why did you do what you did?” said Boyko.
“But then she told me her story, that she wanted to keep me but it was the social worker at the time who approached her father and coerced him to tell his daughter to give me up.”
On Thursday, both Boyko and Angus sat in a hotel ballroom – a makeshift court gallery where a two-day federal court hearing is underway in Saskatoon.
It will move to Toronto later this month and a judge will decide if the $25,000 to $50,000 is reasonable and fair compensation for survivors.
“The judge is determining whether he will approve this settlement with the federal government and allow these amounts of money to be settled and pay which will remove the federal government from any liability,” said lawyer Tony Merchant.
Under the proposed agreement the government would pay the fourth-highest class action settlement in Canadian history. Up to $750 million in individual compensation would be given out and $50 million for a healing foundation led by survivors.
There has also been mixed reaction to this settlement as to whether it’s enough money, if lawyers should get a cut since four legal teams working on the agreement are set to receive 15 per cent of the minimum government payout.
Another objection is who is eligible for compensation; only individuals who are status “Indian” as per the Indian Act or “Inuit” outline documents are eligible to be claimants.
“In the lawsuit itself it states Indigenous, why are they excluding the Métis when there’s so many Métis that were also scooped as well,” Boyko. questioned.
No amount of money will ever right this wrong and the harm caused to the victims. There is no Canadian legal precedent for the loss of cultural identity and legal experts say the amount that is laid out in the purposed settlement is more than could ever have been won in court.
Angus said if she receives compensation, she knows how she would spend it part of it.
“Maybe to go for treatments,” said Angus, who sought counseling six years ago.
“It just brings back all the memories.”
As her voice trembled Angus admitted she may now be ready for therapy to talk through some of her trauma and that her children and grandchildren of her own have helped her heal.
“It helps a lot especially when they come for a visit – sometimes keep them for more than I should,” Angus said with a smile.
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