Why this Sixties Scoop survivor felt 're-victimized' by the court process
$875M settlement leaves out non-status and Métis people like Robert Doucette
[Update: After this story was published, the Federal Court of Canada approved the $875-million settlement for survivors of the Sixties Scoop. Read more at CBCNews.ca.]
Sixties Scoop survivor Robert Doucette says Federal Court of Canada hearings into a proposed $875-million settlement with Indigenous people are re-victimizing survivors and tearing families apart.
An estimated 20,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed with non-Indigenous parents from the 1960s to the 1980s, in what became known as the Sixties Scoop. They lost their family connections, culture and in some cases suffered physical and sexual abuse.
The federal government announced a proposed settlement with survivors last October.
- FINDING CLEO: How siblings of lost girl made peace with their loss
- AS IT HAPPENS: What the Sixties Scoop settlement means to Marcia Brown Martel
Doucette, the former president of the Métis Nation in Saskatchewan, testified at the hearings to voice his opposition to a settlement that leaves out Métis and non-status people.
He spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about the experience.
What have you been thinking about as you sit through these hearings?
I want to say that I feel saddened. I feel re-victimized.
I want to ask, first of all, about the kinds of stories you heard. I know there's been so many extraordinary narratives that people have presented. What has stood out for you in these couple of days in court?
One of the things that has been primarily said is that people have not felt that they've been treated with respect.
We all got, like, three minutes to speak.
[Judge Michel Shore] told people that you had to speak to the settlement agreement and why you're objecting. You weren't here to tell your story. That wasn't part of this.
I met two Aubichon girls that were taken away in 1968 from Meadow Lake that are my cousins. I met them yesterday for the first time in 50 years.
What people are saying to me is that they feel also re-victimized. They weren't given the opportunity to tell their story.
We were led to believe that just these two days would be focused on the survivors. And it wasn't.
But you stuck it out and you did testify yesterday. In your three minutes, what were you able to tell the court?
I'm here to talk about three things — the exclusion of the Métis, the exclusion of temporary wards and how I don't believe that class action lawyers are acting in the best interests of their clients.
[Editor's note: As It Happens reached out to Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett's office for comment. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson said: "We have said from the beginning that this is a significant step — but not the last step. We know there are other claims that remain unresolved, including those of the Métis and non-status. We remain committed to working with all Indigenous peoples affected by the Sixties Scoop to resolve the remaining litigation through negotiation."]
It sounds like they've lost sight of what you're all doing there. The issue is thousands of First Nations and Métis children who were taken away by child welfare authorities for decades and placed in care with families outside of the Indigenous communities.
Is it your sense that that story is just not being read into the record here?
It is certainly not being read into the record.
One elder wanted to tell a little bit of her story. She was admonished by the Justice and told repeatedly during the three minutes that she couldn't tell her story.
And that is exactly why a lot of people from all over North America came here. That's why my two cousins who were taken away, the Aubichon girls, came here. That's why I came here.
'They are they are dividing our community. They are making families fight. They are preying on the poor and misfortunate.'- Robert Doucette , Sixties Scoop survivor
This class action would offer up to $50,000 of compensation per survivor and a $50-million foundation to collect the stories of survivors. And there are survivors who support this deal.
If that were nailed down and Métis people were included, would you say, "OK, I'm going to hold my nose and go along with this"?
Now I know how my mushoom and kookum, my grandmother and grandfather, when they signed [Treaty 10] in 1906, felt.
The federal government would go to the people there and they would tell you: "You're going to take this treaty or you're not."
And that's exactly what is happening today.
They are dividing our community. They are making families fight. They are preying on the poor and misfortunate.
And it is a real sad statement on this day in a country called Canada that they are continuing the same divisive politics that they started over 200 years ago to divide the Aboriginal community.
This is wrong what they're doing. This is a bad deal and it looks badly on Canadians.
Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from CBC News. Interview produced by Julian Uzielli.