TORONTO, ON (February 14, 2017)–Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says today’s landmark decision by the Ontario Courts in favour of the Sixties Scoop Claim is not only recognition of what the survivors suffered but a judgment that Canada failed in its duty to protect the cultural identity of Indigenous children.
“I want to lift up Chief Marcia Brown, the representative plaintiff in the lawsuit who led this charge with passion and determination on behalf of the thousands of survivors across the country. This dark and painful chapter in Canadian history needs to be resolved in order to advance healing and reconciliation,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “This decision will now set a precedent for others across the country seeking solace and justice. We know that much more healing needs to take place not only for the survivors, but for their children and grandchildren.”
The class-action lawsuit launched eight years ago against the Attorney General of Canada was filed in 2009, on behalf of Marcia Brown, Chief of Beaverhouse First Nation. The claimants are seeking $1.3 billion in damages on behalf of about 16,000 Indigenous children in Ontario.
Approximately 16,000 Indigenous children in Ontario suffered a devastating loss of identity when they were placed in non-Indigenous homes in either foster care, as crown wards or adoption from 1965 to 1984 by provincial child welfare authorities under terms of a federal-provincial agreement.
The ruling in the long-running and bitterly fought class action paves the way for an assessment of damages the government will now have to pay. In siding with the plaintiffs, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba found Canada had breached its “duty of care” to the children.
“If this government is truly committed to reconciling its horrible historic treatment of Indigenous peoples, then the upcoming federal budget must contain sufficient funding and resources to address a multitude of urgent needs: We need to address the ongoing suicide crisis with mental wellness programming,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “We need to break the cycle of poverty and despair with the necessary infrastructure for good homes and clean water. First Nation lives are not lines in a budget or dollar amounts in a lawsuit. All we need are the necessary resources to create happy and healthy communities in order to finally secure our rightful place in Canada.”