OTTAWA – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde has welcomed the decision by the Ontario Superior Court in the Sixties Scoop class-action lawsuit.
“Children of the Sixties Scoop deserve justice, healing and reconciliation,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “The Sixties Scoop was part of an ongoing attempt by Canada to rob First Nations children of their language, their rights and their identity. Children have the right to speak their language and stay connected to their heritage. Reconciliation means justice for the Sixties Scoop survivors. It means strengthening and valuing First Nations languages and cultures. It means creating hope and opportunity for First Nations children. Today’s decision is a step towards reconciliation.”
The decision by the Ontario Superior Court today deals with Canada’s practice in the 1960s and ‘70s of removing large numbers of Indigenous children from their families and communities and placing them in the care of non-Indigenous foster homes or adoptive homes. This practice has become known as the Sixties Scoop. The Superior Court decision focuses on children of the Sixties Scoop in Ontario and affects approximately 16,000 people but could have impacts on similar cases across the country. The decision today states that Canada breached its common law duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent on-reserve children in Ontario, who had been placed in the care of non-Indigenous foster or adoptive parents, from losing their Indigenous identity.
The AFN supports the Sixties Scoop class action, and in 2009 Chiefs-in-Assembly passed AFN resolution no. 16/2009 – Class Action Support Resolution re: 60’s Scoop. As set out in the resolution, the AFN supports the class action and the relief claimed, as commenced by Marcia Brown Martel (now the Chief of Beaverhouse First Nation) and Robert Commanda on behalf of First Nations peoples and communities in Canada affected by the ‘Sixties Scoop’.