Métis, non-sta­tus Indige­nous launch suit

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TORONTO • Métis and non­sta­tus Indige­nous peo­ples across Canada are seek­ing dam­ages for the al­leged harms in­flicted on them by the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment dur­ing the ’60s Scoop, ac­cord­ing to a pro­posed class ac­tion filed on Thurs­day.In an untested state­ment of claim, the sur­vivors of the Scoop ar­gue they were de­prived of their iden­ti­ties by be­ing taken from their fam­i­lies and placed with non-abo­rig­i­nal fam­i­lies. As a re­sult, they say, they suf­fered men­tal, emo­tional and other harms.“Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties de­scribe the ’60s Scoop as de­struc­tive to their cul­ture,” the claim in Fed­eral Court as­serts. “Canada was care­less, reck­less, wil­fully blind, or de­lib­er­ately ac­cept­ing of, or was ac­tively pro­mot­ing, a pol­icy of cul­tural as­sim­i­la­tion.”Among other things, the claim seeks a court dec­la­ra­tion that the gov­ern­ment breached its duty to­ward the plain­tiffs and seeks un­spec­i­fied dam­ages.Garth My­ers, lawyer for the plain­tiffs, said on Thurs­day it was un­clear how many peo­ple might be taken in by the class at this point or what an ap­pro­pri­ate level of com­pen­sa­tion might be if the claim were to suc­ceed.Ear­lier this year, the gov­ern­ment struck an $800-mil­lion set­tle­ment of a sim­i­lar class ac­tion — one in­volv­ing on-re­serve Indige­nous peo­ple who be­came vic­tims of the ’60s Scoop — in which each vic­tim would re­ceive up to $50,000. Lawyers for the plain­tiffs say it’s time Canada rec­og­nized its ac­tions taken in the ’60s Scoop af­fected a much larger group of Indige­nous peo­ple.In June, Crown-indige­nous Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Carolyn Ben­nett said the set­tle­ment agree­ment did not ad­dress “all of the harm” done by the ’60s Scoop. More work needed to be done with Métis and non­sta­tus peo­ples, she said.Ben­nett had no im­me­di­ate com­ment to the pro­posed ac­tion.The pro­posed rep­re­sen­ta­tive plain­tiff in the case is Toronto-born Brian Day, 44, a Métis who now lives in Ot­tawa.Ac­cord­ing to the claim, Day was raised in ac­cor­dance with his fam­ily’s Métis tra­di­tion that in­cluded hunt­ing un­til age four, when the Kawartha-hal­ibur­ton Chil­dren’s Aid So­ci­ety took him from his fam­ily and placed him for seven years with a non-abo­rig­i­nal fam­ily in Sud­bury, Ont.“Mr. Day was told by his non-abo­rig­i­nal adopted fam­ily that he was not Métis or Indige­nous,” the claim as­serts. “For years, he was told by this fam­ily that he was white and Scot­tish.”Given his up­bring­ing, Day has lost his Métis cul­tural iden­tity and can­not speak French, the claim states.“Be­cause of ’60s Scoop, Mr. Day is emo­tion­ally, spir­i­tu­ally and cul­tur­ally dis­con­nected,” the claim says. “He feels alien­ated, anx­ious, hope­less, sad, frus­trated, and re­sent­ful.”

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