Indigenous

Sixties Scoop class action settlement to move forward after delays

Parts of the class action settlement for Sixties Scoop survivors that have been on hold for nearly a year will resume next month, according to the class administrator.

Process of denying claims was put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

Chief Marcia Brown Martel sings outside the Parliament buildings in 2017 following the announcement of a compensation package for Sixties Scoop survivors. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Parts of the class action settlement for Sixties Scoop survivors that have been on hold for nearly a year will resume next month, according to the class administrator.

The process of denying ineligible applications had been on hold as a result of the coronavirus pandemic but that will be changing come March, along with resuming personalized deadlines for applicants who need to provide additional information for their claims to be adjudicated. 

"We didn't deny any claims during the pandemic. It just wasn't going to be fair," said Doug Lennox of Klein Lawyers, who provides ongoing counsel to class members.

"But we are now at a point where I think we can lift that pause and go forward and work for those survivors because they need answers."

Doug Lennox, of Klein Lawyers, provides ongoing counsel to class members. (Submitted by Doug Lennox)

Canada's class action settlement agreement with Sixties Scoop survivors, signed in November 2017, set aside $750 million to compensate First Nations and Inuit children who were removed from their homes and placed with non-Indigenous foster or adoptive parents between 1951 and 1991, and lost their cultural identities as a result.

While the claims administration has continued to actively review, assess, and approve claims, Lennox said the pandemic brought unexpected challenges for the class action. He said it's taken a while to adjust and adapt systems and resources in order for the claims administrator Collectiva to do its job amid the pandemic.

As of January 2021, over 9,000 claims have been determined to require more information or have been rejected with the right to reconsideration. A total of 14,882 claims have been approved and 9,298 are still actively being assessed. 

"We're anxious to move forward and get survivors the resolution that they're so entitled to," said Lennox.

"It's important on a personal level so people have that information so they can decide what they want to do next. But, it's also important for how class action settlements work."

In June, the Federal Court approved interim payments of $21,000 to people whose applications are approved. There is still no exact timeline for final payments, as the total amount of compensation each claimant will receive is dependent on the total number of claimants approved, but Monday's announcement gets this process moving forward again.

"Throughout the pandemic where we can get someone a cheque, we've gotten them a cheque," said Lennox.

"The process has taken longer than anyone expected. I am so impressed by the resilience and patience of survivors."

Claimants concerned about how COVID-19 may affect their claim are asked to reach out to class counsel for guidance. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ka’nhehsí:io Deer is a Kanien’kehá:ka journalist from Kahnawake, Que. She is currently a reporter with CBC Indigenous covering communities across Quebec.

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