Priscilla Meeches and Stewart Garnett were part of the news conference in Ottawa when the $800-million Sixties Scoop settlement proposal was announced last October, but say they were not consulted about it and didn’t see a full copy of it until last week. (Brett Purdy/CBC News) National Reporter Karen Pauls is an award-winning journalist who has been a national news reporter in Manitoba since 2004. She has travelled across Canada and around the world to do stories for CBC, including the 2011 Royal Wedding in London. Karen has worked in Washington and was the correspondent in Berlin, Germany, for three months in 2013, covering the selection of Pope Francis in Rome. Twitter @karenpaulscbc
A group of Indigenous Sixties Scoop adoptees is trying to scuttle a proposed $800-million settlement announced last year by the federal government, CBC News has learned.
"Our mission right now is to put a stop to this," said Priscilla Meeches, one of the Manitoba-based plaintiffs in the national class-action lawsuit.
"We need a better settlement than this, because there’s too many of us out there, and at the end of the day, it’s just not gonna be enough."
She’s not alone in wanting to see the deal halted. A group in Ottawa called the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network has already sent a letter asking Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett for a meeting to discuss their concerns about the settlement, and launched a campaign against it .
The group is also trying to collect signatures on a petition from people who are opting out of the settlement. ‘I want people to be able to hear our stories like they did with the residential school survivors. That was never done. No one asked us what we went through.’ Stewart Garnett, another Manitoba-based plaintiff, also wants to see the settlement reworked.
"First of all, how could [they] throw out a range of $20,000-$50,000 [per claimant]? How do you get that range?"
Meeches and Garnett were among the adoptees on stage when Bennett made the landmark announcement in Ottawa on Oct. 5, 2017. The settlement aims to provide compensation for thousands of First Nations and Inuit children who were placed in non-Indigenous care between 1951 and 1991, in what has become known as the Sixties Scoop.
Meeches and Garnett said they only got 24 hours notice of the October event, and didn’t see the terms of the settlement before it was announced.
"Once I started putting the pieces of the puzzle together that I was the token face for the Sixties Scoop, it wasn’t a matter of supporting it or not," said Garnett.
Under the proposed settlement, which has yet to be finalized, Ottawa has set aside $750 million for individual compensation and another $50 million for a foundation dedicated to reconciliation initiatives. Another $75 million will cover legal fees. During what is known now as the Sixties Scoop, federal and provincial agencies would place ads like this in newspapers, trying to place Indigenous children in white homes. Meeches and other adoptees say they only got a copy of the full agreement last week, and said once they saw the details, they had to speak out against it.
There’s a clause in the agreement that gives Ottawa the option to declare the agreement null and void if 2,000 eligible claimants opt out. The federal government has not indicated if it would exercise that option.
"I want this to be re-looked at. I want people to be able to hear our stories like they did with the residential school survivors. That was never done. No one asked us what we went through," said Meeches.
"Right now, I’m asking [claimants] to stand […]
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