Apology coming but no money for Sixties Scoop: Sask. Premier Brad Wall
Lawyer involved in lawsuits says apologies, compensation go hand in hand
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says the province will issue a formal apology for the Sixties Scoop — the practice whereby First Nations and Métis children were taken from their families and adopted out to non-aboriginal families.
However, there will be no compensation, Wall said Wednesday.
The Saskatchewan government participated in the Adopt Indian Métis program between 1966 and 1975.
Critics say the Scoop robbed thousands of First Nations and Métis children of their language and culture.
Robert Doucette, president of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan and himself a Sixties Scoop survivor, said an apology will be meaningful.
"It validates that I didn't do anything wrong," Doucette said. "That the thousands and thousands of kids that were taken away from our families, [the authorities] were wrong in doing that."
Doucette added he was, himself, not seeking compensation but supports those who are.
Raven Sinclair, who was also adopted, said a financial settlement would spare people from going through the legal system for compensation.
"It would save us the time and trauma and turmoil of going into court and telling our stories, Sinclair said. "And then, very likely down the road, doing it again in an independent assessment process."
Last week, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger apologized to indigenous families for the Sixties Scoop on behalf of the Manitoba government.
In Saskatchewan, the Opposition New Democrats have been calling for the Saskatchewan government to do the same.
Following the regular cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Wall spoke with reporters about the issue.
Lawyer says primary responsibility for Sixties Scoop lies with Ottawa
Regina lawyer Tony Merchant, whose law firm has launched class action lawsuits over the Sixties Scoop, said provinces are doing the right thing by apologizing and said compensation will likely follow.
"The provinces appropriately are apologizing and implicitly accepting that compensation and closure will follow," Merchant said in a written statement.
However, the Adopt Indian Métis program was a federal government program, he said.
"The primary wrong lies with the federal government and not the provinces who went along with the program," Merchant said.
"The obstinate refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing by the federal government that we saw regarding residential school wrongdoing is being born out again over Sixties Scoop."
NDP Opposition leader agrees with apology
"I'm pleased and ready to work together with all members of the [Saskatchewan] Legislative Assembly and First Nations and Métis leaders and community members on this process," NDP leader Cam Broten said in a statement Wednesday. "Apologies can be powerful, especially when they're accompanied by concrete actions."
Broten suggested the province adjust rules and policies to make it easier for affected people to gain access to birth records. He also called on the provincial government to host a roundtable to hear the stories of people affected by the Sixties Scoop and develop an action plan to move toward healing and reconciliation.