'Your suffering is recognized,' judge tells survivors as Sixties Scoop hearings begin in Saskatoon
Supporters and opponents giving opinions on $875M proposed settlement
Sixties Scoop survivors cried, hugged and joked with each other as a Federal Court hearing into a proposed $875-million settlement began Thursday in Saskatoon.
"Your suffering is recognized," Judge Michel Shore told more than 100 survivors in the court gallery, as well as those watching across Canada via video.
The hearing is taking place in a downtown Saskatoon hotel ballroom rather than the courthouse to accommodate the large crowd.
Survivors have many different opinions on the deal. Some hope it can provide closure to them and their families. For example, Pine Creek First Nation member Lynn Thompson and University of Regina professor Raven Sinclair says the deal is not perfect but is the best option available.
Opponents say the maximum amount of compensation for survivors of $50,000 is not nearly enough. Others question the $75 million going to lawyers. Others note the proposal only applies to First Nations and Inuit people, with Métis survivors excluded.
"It's just not fair," Stewart Garnett said as he stood in line to pass through the heavy police and security presence outside the hearing doors.
Garnett, who now lives in Winnipeg, was adopted out to a Canadian family who moved to California.
Some opinions are more nuanced. Sioux Valley First Nation Chief Vincent Tacan came from Manitoba to observe the hearing and advocate for his people. He said the deal should be changed, not scrapped. He said there should be far more money for services to help people heal.
Tacan and others compared the Sixties Scoop to the residential school system.
"In some cases, it's worse than residential schools. (Residential schools students) knew their family and knew they'd be going back," he said.
He said Sixties Scoop survivors' "entire history was scrubbed."
The hearing is expected to conclude Friday. Shore assured everyone that they would be heard, but by noon Thursday, only two lawyers had spoken.