An agreement in principle to directly compensate Sixties Scoop survivors has been reached between the federal government and the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett announced Friday.
However, the claim will leave out groups like Métis and non-status Indigenous Peoples, said Jeffery Wilson, the lawyer who represented the Ontario survivors in the class action suit.
For those wondering if they will qualify for the settlement, lawyer Jeffery Wilson broke down some key points:
- The agreement applies to those adopted or fostered between 1951 and 1991.
- The agreement will apply to anyone in Canada.
- It will apply to anyone adopted to another country.
- Indigenous people who were wards of the Crown during the period covered by the settlement will qualify.
- Those who were adopted or were in temporary care for a long period of time during the period covered by the settlement will qualify.
- Claimants will not have to pay legal fees.
"[The claim] does not include Métis. It includes non-status [First Nations] … so long as they are eligible to be status," said Wilson. "But if they're non-status they are not, by that fact in and of itself, disqualified.
"The reason Métis are not included is because there is no records to identify Métis during the relevant period of time," he said.
Wilson has been working on the Ontario case for 13 years.
The agreement in principle will see $750 million go directly to people who were taken from their families during what is known as the Sixties Scoop, during which thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their homes and placed in non-Indigenous care over a period of decades.
Another $50 million has been earmarked for a foundation dedicated to reconciliation initiatives.
Depending on how many make a claim, survivors could each see between $25,000 to $50,000.
Exact details are still in the works for applying for compensation, but Wilson said the process will be simple.
"A person will file an application saying, 'I believe that I was removed, I didn't live with my parents or my nation,'" said Wilson.
Those eligible for compensation will have to get documents to prove they were Crown or permanent wards and were adopted out.
"If the provincial authorities don't have the records — which is very possible — then the process will enable them to declare for a statutory declaration," said Wilson.
Details still to be worked out
Many Sixties Scoop adoptees were sent to different provinces, while others were shipped across North America and further abroad. Adoptees sent to other countries will be eligible to receive compensation as well, said Wilson.
"It doesn't matter where you were sent to as long as you were [adopted] between 1951 to 1991. That's a 40-year period that covers eligibility," said Wilson.
'The process is going to be kept very simple. Lawyers cannot charge for any work that is done.' - Jeffery Wilson
"The process is going to be kept very simple. Lawyers cannot charge for any work that is done."
The government is putting aside an additional $75 million to cover claimants' legal fees.
Friday's announcement was an agreement in principle, which means the finer details of the settlement still need to be arranged.
There will, however, be a fund dedicated to reconciliation initiatives that will be open to anyone — including non-status First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people — who were adopted out during the Sixties Scoop.
Wilson said there is a debate about how compensation will work for adoptees who have since died.
"The question that has to be considered is — let's assume there was an adopted child who was a Sixties Scoop survivor [who] dies. You're not telling me that their adopted parents could come forward and claim?" said Wilson.
Non-First Nations adoptee parents are unlikely to be compensated for children they adopted who have since died, he added.
"There's an alternative argument that maybe this money should go to the foundation and this should be for the living people," said Wilson.