First Nation communities in the East Kootenay region, along with Sixties Scoop survivors from across the nation, have recently begun to receive interim payments for claims made through Collectiva’s Class Action Sixties Scoop Settlement.
On June 1, the Federal Court of Canada approved an order for Collectiva, serving as the administrator of the Sixties Scoop Class Action, to issue $21,000 interim payments for survivors taken from their biological families in the 1960s without consent from the child’s families or their family’s bands.
“Sixties Scoop survivors have waited far too long to be recognized and for the harm done to them to be acknowledged,” said Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations in a recent press release.
“Interim payments, which have now begun, ensures survivors will start receiving compensation under the settlement agreement as soon as possible. Compensation alone cannot heal the past and much work remains to address the harm done by the Sixties Scoop. We will continue to work with Indigenous partners so that we can foster the healing needed by survivors, families and communities.”
However, Bennett’s office declined to provide any further comments outside of their press release about the Sixties Scoop in B.C. when asked about the ongoing payments to survivors.
First Nation and Inuit children were apprehended and placed with non-Indigenous parents between 1951 and 1991. The Sixties Scoop Class Action argues that individuals who were taken during the Sixties Scoop suffered significant harm in losing their traditional culture and languages resulting in the loss of many survivors’ cultural identities as adults.
The compensation of the Sixties Scoop Settlement has recently been delayed due to the side effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
According to Collectiva, there were a total of 34,767 requests for individual payment applications filed by June 25, 2020.
Thirty-six per cent of those applications were deemed eligible and approximately four per cent of claims were rejected, but the deadline to file an appeal is currently suspended.
That means there have been approximately 12,551 individuals deemed eligible for payments as part of a national settlement between the Government of Canada and plaintiffs representing Sixties Scoop survivors.
There is an additional order for interim payments being reviewed by the Ontario Superior Court who is also presiding over the Sixties Scoop Settlement.
While submissions for the settlement are still pending for some, Klein Lawyers Vancouver-based lawyer Doug Lennox has been working with survivors for six years that the class action lawsuit has been in progress.
“My firm got involved in 2011, so nine years ago and I’ve been actively working on the cases for six years,” said Lennox. “Our firm was one of four firms that advanced the class actions and brought them to settlement. My role at the moment is to try to help clients with the settlement and to try to make the settlement work for them.”
Klein Lawyers worked with legal representation from three other firms to help bring about change for survivors from one of the darkest chapters in Canada’s history.
Lennox grew interested in working on the Sixties Scoop Settlement after learning about the residential school survivors class action.
“The residential school class actions were very famous and a very important part of our legal history, and our attempt to right a terrible wrong,” he explained. “As I came to know clients who had called our firm about the scoop, I came to understand that it was another chapter in our history and that many of the wrongs that had been done to Indigenous people through the residential school system hadn’t stopped, but had continued in other ways, so working on scoop has been a way for me to try to repair some of that history and I hope to help in the reconciliation process.”
He remains optimistic that Canadians will be able to learn about their history through the Sixties Scoop Settlement.
“These cases are obviously important for Indigenous people, but I think they’re important for the rest of Canada to understand the history of our country,” said Lennox. “When you have class actions like this, and a settlement like this, there is an education role to understand what happened in the past and how we need to move forward to avoid those types of mistakes in the future.”
Lennox noted the Sixties Scoop Foundation is in the process of recording the events that occurred during the apprehension of Indigenous children in the 1960s to form a legacy that can be used to raise awareness about Canadian history.
According to Collectiva’s website, there will be up to $50 million approved for a Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation.
“One of the things that is coming out of the settlement is the Sixties Scoop Foundation and there was money set aside from reconciliation projects that will form a legacy for this case,” he explained. “It’s not just about individuals getting compensation, which is very important, but there will be a lasting record of this, and the foundation can help bring about the social change and culture that we all need.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created some barriers for legal teams to meet with survivors and to collect outstanding documents, Lennox and his peers are committed to reviewing 34,767 applications to determine eligibility in the national settlement.
After all claims have been reviewed and interim cheques have been distributed, a settlement of up to $750 million for individual payments can be reached but it’s difficult for legal teams to predict how much longer the process will continue.
“We’re doing our best and we’re working to get people paid as quickly as possible,” said Lennox, noting that compensation from the settlement is a small step that takes place in promoting healing from the Sixties Scoop.
To learn more about the Sixties Scoop Foundation, please visit: https://60sscoopfoundation.com/