Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett will announce an agreement in principle with survivors of the Sixties Scoop tomorrow, CBC News has confirmed.
Multiple sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the agreement would include some $800 million in compensation, or between $25,000 and $50,000 for each claimant. Roughly $100 million will be dedicated to other reconciliation initiatives. Sources cautioned that not all of the details of the agreement have been finalized.
Bennett is expected to announce the deal Friday at 9:30 a.m. on Parliament Hill.
In February, after an eight-year court battle, an Ontario Superior Court judge found the federal government failed to prevent on-reserve children from losing their Indigenous identity after they were forcibly taken from their homes as part of what’s known as the Sixties Scoop.
Thousands of First Nations children were placed in non-Indigenous care between 1965 and 1984, which resulted in psychological harm that has dogged survivors into adulthood, Justice Edward Belobaba wrote in his ruling, siding with the plaintiffs.
Belobaba said Canada breached its “duty of care” to the children and ignored the damaging effects of the Ontario-led program.
Lead plaintiff to hold news conference
Marcia Brown Martel, 53, the lead plaintiff in the Ontario action, a member of the Temagami First Nation near Kirkland Lake, Ont., would not confirm settlement details when reached by CBC News Thursday.
She will hold a news conference of her own on Parliament Hill tomorrow morning.
Brown Martel has sought, in addition to compensation, a pot of money to encourage reconciliation efforts to chart a “path forward” after decades of pain.
The $100 million earmarked for other initiatives could be used to fund some of the projects she has called for, including the construction of a public memorial, the creation of a “healing foundation,” which would be a safe space for survivors where they could engage with Indigenous culture, and the creation of a scholarship fund for post-secondary studies on reconciliation.
Belobaba’s ruling in the class-action lawsuit paved the way for some sort of financial settlement, after Bennett said the federal government would not appeal the ruling.
There are lawsuits in other jurisdictions over similar programs that placed children in foster care or with adoptive parents.
The settlement to be announced Friday will be national in scope, and is expected to put an end to most of the 18 related lawsuits that are active throughout the country.
The settlement amount is less than the $1.3 billion the Ontario class-action lawsuit sought on behalf of about 16,000 Indigenous children in the province who claimed they were harmed by being placed in non-Indigenous homes under the terms of a federal-provincial child services agreement.
The plaintiffs argued — and Belobaba agreed — that Ottawa breached part of the agreement that required consultation with First Nations about the child welfare program.