Métis still fighting for Sixties Scoop compensation after being left out of federal agreement
Agreement in principle for $800M includes status, non-status Indians, Inuit, but not Métis
A Manitoba Métis man who was taken from his family at the age of five says he's going to keep fighting for compensation after Métis people were left out of the class-action settlement over the Sixties Scoop.
On Friday, Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett announced the Canadian government has reached an agreement in principle with survivors worth $800 million.
She said the settlement will "begin to right the wrongs" caused by what's known as the Sixties Scoop — the forcible removal of thousands of Indigenous children from their homes and their placement with non-Indigenous families during a period stretching from 1951 to 1991.
The agreement includes First Nations and Inuit people, and may include non-status Indians, but not Métis people.
"It includes non-status Indians, so long as they're eligible for status, but if they're non-status, they're not, by that fact in and of itself, disqualified," said Jeffery Wilson, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action.
"The reason Métis are not included is because there's no records to identify Métis during the relevant period of time."
David Chartrand — no relation to the leader of the Manitoba Métis Federation — says he lost his connection to his family and his culture when he was taken and sent to the United States.
"A lot of us Métis children ended up abroad, around the world. It was very bad. The homes that we went to were very abusive in a lot of ways. The girls really got it bad," Chartrand said in an interview on CBC Radio's Up to Speed.
He was surprised when Métis were left out of the agreement. He had expected to be included.
"It sends a message to me that they surely don't understand us," he said.
Chartrand said he's glad the federal government has recognized the damage that loss of culture has had on the survivors, but the amount that people are receiving isn't enough to compensate for that loss.
The damage done to families and communities is long-lasting, said Chartrand, who was in his early 20s when he reconnected with his family, only to watch as many of them die within a year.
"It should have been joyous. It really was, I was glad to see my mom, but at the end, when that year ended, I just ended up pretty much burying my whole family," he said.
"Roughly six in my family. Didn't spend no time with them. Tried to learn all I can from my mom. Only nine months. Canada took this away from us … whether it be the province or the federal government."
He said the lawsuit did open the possibility for Chartrand and his lawyer, Tony Merchant, to sue the Province of Manitoba for its role in the Sixties Scoop.
Merchant Law Group LLP released a statement saying that it intends to pursue a class-action lawsuit against several provincial governments "on behalf of Indian, First Nations, Métis and other Aboriginal persons."