Toronto Sixties Scoop rally pushes back against government settlement
'The settlement feels a bit like a payout to silence the community,' says organizer
A series of rallies across the country were held Friday in support of survivors of the Sixties Scoop, with some advocating for a better settlement than the one announced last fall by the federal government.
That settlement aims to compensate all First Nations and Inuit children who were removed from their homes and communities — and lost their cultural identities as a result — between 1951 and 1991.
The National Indigenous survivors of Child Welfare network organized the rallies to push back against the proposed $800-million settlement.
"The settlement amount was not nearly enough; it was less than what we were asking for just in Ontario," said Rev. Evan Smith at the Toronto rally at Allan Gardens.
"It isn't enough to cover the trauma and abuse a lot of folks went through."
Smith is Anishinaabe and part of the Toronto Urban Native Ministry.
There has also been tension around the settlement as Métis and non-status First Nations survivors were not included, although the Métis National Council has now entered into negotiations with Canada.
"It's another strategy of ongoing colonialism and genocide to pit First Nations folks against Métis folks because with the current settlement those folks are excluded," said Percy Lezard.
Lezard, a survivor of the Sixties Scoop, is a social worker and a two-spirited non-binary Indigenous person from Penticton Indian Reserve in B.C.
Criticism of the settlement process say that it has been too vague.
"It feels really disorganized and it feels really quick," said Smith.
"The settlement feels a bit like a payout to silence the community."
Smith added there's been little information since it came out about who is actually eligible.
"Lots of people filed claims and as far as I know most people haven't heard any news from lawyers about whether or not their claims were actually making them eligible."
A petition to scuttle the proposed $800-million settlement that is making its way across Canada ignited a disagreement that lead to the cancellation of the rally in Winnipeg this afternoon.
Indigenous communities in Canada remain divided on whether or not to accept the proposed settlement. Some are calling for more money, where others want a fair negotiating process that includes Métis and non-status First Nations survivors.
"Any settlements that they offer like this are divisive because people are hurt, people are trying to recover and yet there are those who will find different ways forward," said Chief R. Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of New Credit.
"So when you have things like this, of course they're going to cause some form of divisiveness."