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Legal,  Trending News

Sixties Scoop survivors now eligible for compensation after approval of settlement

The long and winding road of getting compensation for Indigenous people who were victims of the notorious Sixties Scoop has come to an end after two courts approved a settlement reached with the federal government late last year.

The Sixties Scoop was a policy wherein federal and provincial officials took Indigenous children from their homes and put them into foster families for adoption. In October 2017, the federal government announced a settlement of $750 million for survivors after an agreement was forged with counsel in two separate court actions in the Federal Court and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

And now, class members can apply for compensation after the settlement was approved by the Ontario court following a previous approval by the Federal Court. Individuals who were affected by the Sixties Scoop are eligible to receive up to $50,000, depending on the number of claims made. Those who want to opt out of the settlement must do so before Oct. 31, and those who have commenced a legal proceeding against Canada and do not discontinue it on or before that date will be deemed to have opted out.

Broadly speaking, the lawsuits argued the children who were the victims of the Sixties Scoop (despite its name, the class covers victims between 1951 and 1991) suffered the loss of their cultural identity, resulting in lingering emotional and physical scars. Morris Cooper of Cooper Law, who was co-counsel in the Ontario case (Brown v. Canada (Attorney General) 2017 ONSC 251), noted the case began in 2009 and has been a long journey, resulting in a “precedent-setting decision [in February 2017] where for the first time loss of cultural identity was a recognizable class of action in the common law world.”

“As far as we are aware, there are no common law jurisdictions that had addressed this issue of the loss of cultural identity,” he said. “There were a couple of personal injury cases in Australia where the courts granted additional damages for loss of opportunity to carry out cultural duties or common actions, but there was nothing precedent-setting about them. Our case was really squarely on the loss of language and culture.”

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