Thunder Bay

'60s scoop' children back in Toronto court

A class action lawsuit filed on the basis that young First Nations people were deprived of their cultural identity was expected to be in the courts on Monday.

Plaintiffs say a generation of people lost their Aboriginal identity after being taken from their homes

Beaverhouse First Nation Chief Marcia Brown Martel is back in a Toronto court today to present the '60s Scoop' case concerning the cultural deprivation of Aboriginal people. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

A class action lawsuit filed on the basis that young First Nations people were deprived of their cultural identity was expected to be in the courts on Monday.

Between 1965 and 1985, an estimated 16,000 Aboriginal children in Ontario were removed from their homes and placed in other — mostly non-native — communities in what is called by some "the 60s scoop."

Chief Marcia Brown-Martel of the Beaverhouse First Nation and Robert Commanda were two of those children taken from their families. They launched an attempt at a class action lawsuit in February 2009.

In May 2010 a judge conditionally granted a motion to certify the action as a class proceeding.

But in December 2011, it was ruled that conditional certification of a class action proceeding should not have been granted.

Brown-Martell and Commanda are expected to present their case before a new judge at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto.

"I am dismayed that the Government of Canada has taken the position that there is no justifiable claim because its actions were in the best interests of me and 16,000 other children who were taken from our homes and raised far away from our communities without regard for our cultural identity," said Brown-Martel in a press release issued by the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

"Canada’s argument that it had no capacity and no obligation to protect our Aboriginal cultural rights is reprehensible [and] is a continuation of the assimilation policies inflicted upon First Nations through the Residential School system."

A website has been established to help First Nations people register and obtain more information on the class action proceedings.

Brown-Martell and Commanda spoke about the case with CBC’s Superior Morning. Listen to the interview here.