Some Indigenous adoptees are channeling their anger about the national ’60s Scoop settlement into lawsuits against the Canadian government.
“I hope others opt out and they can join me,” said Angelina Gosselin, who was raised in a series of foster homes in British Columbia.
Gosselin, who is an RCMP officer in the lower mainland in B.C., filed a lawsuit this summer for loss of identity, culture and – plainly speaking – her childhood.
“(I) was removed from several foster homes due to the unspeakable abuse,” she said.
But instead of turning to alcohol or drugs, Gosselin said she began talking to and about Indigenous kids in care.
“I advocate for our children in the child welfare system – not because I have a portfolio, but because they, like I did, just want a healthy life filled with choices,” she said.
That’s what her lawsuit is about, too.
Gosselin said she wants to use the legacy of the ‘60s Scoop to force changes to the child welfare system. She can do that, she says, by rejecting the settlement.
“I’m trying to make a point,” she said in an interview.
Indigenous children fill most foster homes in many provinces, which Gosselin said is history repeating itself.
Already, a government lawyer has responded to her filing, she noted.
“This can get government action,” she said.
Same disconnect, trauma and identity crisis today
Katherine Legrange is also using the courts to fix what she said is a broken child welfare system.
Especially since the settlement approved a few months ago applies only to status and Inuit adoptees.
Her lawsuit on behalf of excluded Métis and non-status adoptees was filed in a B.C. court this week.
“If we don’t make the necessary changes now, more of our children will experience the same disconnect, trauma, and identity crises that we did,” she said.
“Nothing has really changed since the ‘60s Scoop.”
Neither woman knows whether what they’re doing will work.
But both said they have to try.
“My hope is to include the legislative and policy changes as one item of the terms of a potential settlement or award,” said Legrange, a Métis raised in Winnipeg.
Added Gosselin, who has reconnected with her Haisla Nation: “My gut says I have to say No and opt out. It’s about giving back to the kids in care now.”
Adoptees have until August 2019 to file their claim in and receive between $25,000 and $50,000 each from the $750 million compensation fund. They have until Oct. 31, 2018, to opt out.
In exchange, they sign away their right to sue the federal government, which is also providing $50 million to establish a ‘60s Scoop healing foundation for adoptees and their families.
And, the government is covering the legal costs for each application.
But Coleen Rajotte, another Métis of Winnipeg, rejected the entire package.
“This whole thing has just been…a total mess,” said the president of the Manitoba ‘60s Scoop Survivors Association.
“We are not being given any choice just like where we were put as children.”