Métis Sixties Scoop survivor sues federal and Saskatchewan governments

Robert Doucette is asking for the court to determine the damages.

Robert Doucette says governments breached fiduciary duty and duties of care

Robert Doucette, a Métis man from Saskatchewan, is suing the federal and provincial governments for a declaration of wrongdoing. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

A Métis Sixties Scoop survivor filed a statement of claim Monday morning against Ottawa and the Saskatchewan government for damages and recognition. 

Robert Doucette was taken from his family in 1962. During a news conference announcing his lawsuit, Doucette referred to a baby sweater he brought with him, given to him by his mother 53 years after Doucette was taken from her.

"It is a reminder of the failed, damaging, and tragic attempt by both levels of government to further their goal of assimilating Aboriginal people at whatever cost," he said.

Doucette is seeking a declaration that both levels of government have breached their fiduciary duty and common law duties of care owed to him and Sixties Scoop survivors. He is asking for the damages to be determined by the court.

He said he will also leave it to the courts to decide whether or not Métis people should be included in the existing compensation agreement.

In October of last year, then-Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett issued an apology and compensation to Sixties Scoop survivors, but only those who have status according to the Indian Act.

The apology and compensation excluded non-status and Métis people.

"We're looking for respect and for justice. We have seen nothing but disdain from the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, by leaving us out of this agreement," said Doucette at the news conference.

"Prime Minister Trudeau, stand up and recognize and defend Métis people. Minister Bennett, apologize to us and offer some kind of deal for the trauma we faced."

Robert Doucette was joined by supporters, some of whom are Indigenous and not Métis, and are included in the proposed Sixties Scoop settlement. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

Former premier Brad Wall did not apologized to Sixties Scoop survivors, despite having said he would do so back in 2015.

"He's not premier anymore. He's now deferred that request to Scott Moe and I want to tell [premier-designate] Scott Moe that we're going to hold his government accountable for what they did to all of us," said Doucette, who requesting a provincial apology in his statement of claim.

When asked by reporters on Saturday whether he would be apologizing to Sixties Scoop survivors, Moe said he would be reaching out to Indigenous leaders in the province on "precisely what that would mean."

"We'll have that conversation in the very near future as we will with other leaders across the province."

He said compensation will not be on the table. 

"That hasn't been the platform of the government of Saskatchewan and I agree with that."

One of Doucette's non-Métis supporters at the courthouse, Patricia Whitebear, pledged to stand with Doucette in solidarity.

"We don't think it's fair that the Métis and non-status were excluded in the proposed settlement agreement," she said

"They received similar treatment as the rest of us, and it was unfair."

Doucette also filed a human rights complaint against Bennett last year for failing to include Métis people in the federal apology and settlement. 

In response to Doucette's human rights complaint, Bennett's office provided a statement to CBC Saskatoon last November that stated the "Sixties Scoop represents a dark and painful chapter in our history."

"The current agreement in principle represents the first step in resolving this issue. We know that there are other claims that remain unresolved, including those of the Métis," the statement said.

"We remain committed to working with all Indigenous peoples affected by the Sixties Scoop to resolve the remaining litigation. We will continue to work collaboratively and collectively with all parties to resolve these claims."

CBC has requested a response from Bennett's office to Doucette's statement of claim, which was filed Monday morning in Saskatoon. 

With files from CBC News, Creeden Martell, and Bridget Yard