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Métis say they should not have been left out of Sixties Scoop compensation

11 Oct 17
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Some Métis who were adopted as children into non-Indigenous households say they’ll fight to get a settlement such as the one the federal government announced last week with First Nations and Inuit people who were raised in similar conditions.

The government has agreed to settle a range of outstanding suits with sufferers of their so-called Sixties Scoop, offering up to $50,000 to every individual who lost their Indigenous identity and culture as a result of being removed from their homes and their communities in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

But the Métis won’t share that money.

“I am quite disappointed that an inclusive agreement could not be reached so that this historical moment meant something to all Sixties Scoop survivors,” Duane Morrisseau-Beck, a co-founder of a group known as the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network, told a news conference on Tuesday.

“After reading the agreement, I started to feel that the dark feeling in the pit of my gut. Was it true? Had they left out my country — the Métis?” Mr. Morrriseau-Beck said. “I’ve been inundated with Facebook postings and inbox messages asking why we are not included, and I do not have an answer to this question.”

Mr. Morrisseau-Beck was taken from his mother at birth and, as with thousands of other Métis children from the Prairies, adopted to a Caucasian household through a program called Adopt Indian Métis (AIM), which was conducted by the states with the support of national advertising dollars.

“I had been told at a really young age I was adopted and that is where the culture shock occurred,” Mr. Morrisseau-Beck stated. “I went through a really dark period for many, many years feeling very disconnected and not really feeling like I fit in anywhere.”

The federal government agreed to settle the vast majority of those 18 Sixties Scoop lawsuits started throughout the nation over the last decade after an Ontario judge ruled in February that Canada had failed in its duty of care toward the victims in that state.

In the case of the Métis, Ottawa asserts that the states are also to blame for the injuries which were done.

Between the 1960s and the 90s, the Métis and non-status Indians weren’t recognized by the national government as being holders of Indigenous rights, therefore the federal government says it had no part in placing Métis children in care.

That doesn’t mean Ottawa has no culpability, said a spokesman for Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. However, he said, the federal government can’t offer to repay the Métis suits unilaterally, the states will need to be in the table and that is going to happen during another phase of negotiations.

Tony Merchant, a lawyer who’s fighting Sixties Scoop suits on behalf of Métis people and non-status Indians, said the lawsuits will last and, given the national position, they will probably wind up in court because “not one state has shown any sign to pay compensation of any sort.”

Mr. Morrisseau-Beck explained his adoption into a non-Indigenous family led him “a very dangerous path” into dependence and conflicts with the justice system. He is HIV positive, has diabetes and post-traumatic anxiety disorder.

Mr. Morriseau-Beck’s birth mother was with his biological father when he was born, but they were unemployed and living with his paternal grandparents. When he reconnected with his mother in his mid-20s, she told him that both she and his grandparents had fought to keep him.

He said the adoption records state his mother gave him up for adoption.

“But my mother adamantly says that she didn’t sign any documentation,” Mr. Morrisseau-Beck stated. “So we’re thinking that there was some interesting things that has been going on behind the scenes{}”

Mr. Merchant said social-welfare officials of the day believed Indigenous kids would have better lives when they had been adopted into non-Indigenous houses, and consequently, many children — particularly boys, who had been believed to be more adoptable than women — were removed from their families.

“Canada has recognized its specific responsibility for Indians and the Inuit, and they need to be commended for doing this,” he said. However, “where does this leave Métis and non-status Indians?”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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