Ottawa seeking to settle suits from ’60s Scoop
In a major shift in tactics, the federal government said Wednesday that it wants to negotiate claims resulting from the so-called ‘60s Scoop in which thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in non-native homes.
The change, which comes as a judge gets set to rule on a years-old $1.3-billion class action in Ontario, aims to resolve a “dark and painful chapter” in Canada’s history, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett told the House of Commons.
“I am very proud to say that we are adversaries no more and that negotiation rather than litigation is our government’s preferred route to settle these differences and right historical wrongs,” Bennett said. “Resolving these cases is an important step in our journey of reconciliation with indigenous peoples.”
Bennett’s statement, which was short on details or time frames, comes after a last-minute cancellation of a hearing the judge in the Ontario case had requested for Thursday.
Two former aboriginal leaders were expected to tell the court about the advice they would have given the government - had they been asked - on helping on-reserve children retain their cultural identities after placement in nonindigenous homes.
Instead, government lawyers this week informed Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba that they now had no plans to cross-examine the aging elders or any further evidence to tender, documents show.