Manitoba survivors of '60s Scoop support class-action lawsuit

Some Manitoba survivors of the '60s Scoop support a class-action lawsuit seeking compensation. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the federal government aprehended thousands of indigenous children and forcefully adopted them into white homes.

Federal government should acknowledge the damage caused and apologize, says Marlene Orgeron

Marlene Orgeron was taken from her home in Shoal Lake, Man., in the 1970s and adopted out to a family in the United States. (CBC)

A Saskatchewan law firm is representing more than a thousand victims who are seeking compensation from the federal government for the '60s Scoop, and some Manitoba survivors think it's a good idea.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, the federal government ran the Adopt Indian Métis program. Under the program, thousands of indigenous children were taken from their homes and adopted into white families in Canada and the United States. Some children even ended up as far away as the United Kingdom.

Marlene Orgeron is from the Sapotaweyak Cree Nation in Manitoba. After both her parents died, she lived with her aunt and uncle until the age of four.

All of Canada should hear an apology.- Marlene Orgeron

That's when she was taken from Manitoba and adopted into a family in Louisiana.

She returned to the province when she was 21, but she says there will always be a disconnect with her birth family.

"You share the same blood but that doesn't automatically mean there's going to be this relationship," she said.

Orgeron hasn't signed on, but says she supports the class-action lawsuit.

"Money isn't going to solve anything," she said. "But if someone got into a horrible car accident and it wasn't their fault, then they should be compensated."

Orgeron says what's more important is that the federal government acknowledge the damage caused by the '60s Scoop and apologize.

"It needs to be done publicly," she said. "All of Canada should hear an apology."

Selena Kern also supports the lawsuit but agrees that acknowledgement of wrongdoing from the federal government is more important. 

Raised on the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation until she was nine years old, Kern was taken with two of her siblings and adopted into a Pennsylvania family.

Although she's returned to live in Manitoba, Kern says being taken from her family and community has robbed her of the Ojibway culture and language. It's something she worries she won't be able to pass on to her son.

"But I know if there is any compensation, it's going directly to him," she said.

The Merchant Law Group served the federal government with the class-action lawsuit on Jan. 30.

Merchant also represented more than 7,000 Indian residential school survivors in a landmark case against the federal government that lead to a multibillion-dollar settlement agreement.