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The total federal settlement payment for individual ‘60s Scoop survivors is now set at $25,000, the claims administrator announced this week.
“I understand everyone won’t be happy,” said Doug Lennox of Klein Lawyers, lead spokesperson for the class-action agreement approved in November 2018.
“But now we know how much money we still need to pay and what everybody’s owed.”
The ‘60s Scoop was a wave of adoptions from the 1950s to the ‘90s that swept an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children out of their homes and into non-Indigenous foster and adoptive placements across Canada and around the world.
Survivors sued the federal and Ontario governments, settling for $875-million to compensate for the loss of their cultural identities. Inuit and First Nations people not registered under the Indian Act (non-status) were left out of the deal.
Canada first estimated 20,000 survivors would share $750-million. It paid $75-million to the four law firms that negotiated the settlement, and $50-million to establish a foundation and healing fund.
But on April 4, claims administrator Collectiva confirmed the number of eligible class members exceeded 20,000, meaning their final compensation payments will be less.
The settlement agreement stipulated each class member would receive a total compensation payment of $25,000 if between 20,000 and 30,000 class members were approved.
“We’ve hit an important threshold,” Lennox said in a telephone interview from Vancouver.
“We hit it on Monday. We’re working to get it in front of the judges soon.”
A total of 34,767 claims were submitted by the application deadline, Collectiva said. And, so far, the claims administrator has approved 20,167 claims and denied 10,662.
However, in 2018 survivors were told by then-Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett they would receive between $25,000 and $50,000 in compensation for the harm they endured being separated from their families, communities and culture.
“Whether we like it or not, this is what we got, even if we didn’t ask for it,” said Colleen Hele Cardinal, co-founder of the national Sixties Scoop Network.
“There was no opportunity to counter what we were being offered.”
Lennox said the lawyers know survivors are waiting and will do their best to hurry things along.
“I don’t anticipate that this (court approval) will be contentious or lengthy.”
Already 12,500 survivors received an interim compensation payment of $21,000 during the coronavirus pandemic. They are awaiting their second and final payment of $4,000.
Then, there are those whose claims were approved during the pandemic and are waiting for their total payment of $25,000.
“I know it’s enormously frustrating,” Lennox added.
“People want to know why does everything take so long? We have a legal system that is hundreds of years old. It moves at its own pace.”
He said Collectiva would be ready to implement the decision almost immediately, adding its call centre is now open extended hours.
“They have the funds, they’re ready to go.”