A federal court judge has approved the transfer of $500 million to the administrator of a trust fund that will pay compensation to thousands of 60s Scoop survivors immediately.
In a judgement dated Mar. 27, Justice Michael Phelan agreed with a motion put forward by the 60s Scoop Legacy of Canada in early March that an initial payment to more than 12,000 survivors should go ahead rather than waiting for all claims to be processed.
For that to happen, the court had to officially order Canada to transfer the money to Collectiva – the administrator of the trust fund.
“We’re really grateful they (the court) took the advice of survivors to get the money flowing now,” said Katherine Legrange, the head of the 60s Scoop Legacy. “We know there’s a lot of anxiety and re-traumatization as a result of this class action and processes involved and we’re glad they got the process moving.”
Phelan’s order changes the process of how survivors were going to be compensated. Under the original settlement agreement, all claims had to be processed and a final number given to the federal government by Collectiva before the money would be transferred to the trust fund.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all parties, including the federal government, agreed that an initial payment should go out to those who have been approved, and anyone whose records were not complete would be processed later.
“Many people are still waiting for their birth records but archives are closed and they can’t do that,” said Legrange. “Lots of folks have received their letter of eligibility, pay them now and worry about the other people later.”
More from APTN’s Jamie Pashagumskum
In 2018, Canada agreed to an $875 million settlement agreement with thousands of Indigenous men and women who, as children and infants, were apprehended from their homes and placed in non-Indigenous homes.
According to the agreement, $750-million will be split among survivors, $50-million is being set aside for a 60s Scoop foundation and the rest will be divided among four law firms that negotiated the settlement.
Each approved survivor will receive a base amount of $25,000 sooner than expected.
“It’s makes things a little easier,” said lawyer Doug Lennox, one of the lawyers who negotiated the settlement. “It makes it possible that we don’t have to wait for the very last claim to be decided before we start paying people.”
But Lennox warns cheques have not gone out yet and it isn’t clear on when that will happen.
“We’re all meant to stay at home so that makes it difficult to put together the type of response needed,” said Lennox. “COVID effects lawyers, claimants, the claims adjustor and the government and unfortunately it has slowed everything down.”
The transfer of money to Collectiva also allows interest to accumulate for the 60s Scoop Foundation which is part of the settlement agreement.
Legrange, a non-status Indian with a treaty connection to Ebb and Flow, was taken from her family at birth and moved to Winnipeg.
““We’re really grateful that everyone is working together through this pandemic and recognize the need,” said Legrange. “There’s still going to be a little bit of a wait because they’re (Collectiva) working on a minimal staff. I think it will be a week or two to get money out the door,” said Legrange.
“So I think in the meantime we need some mental health support.”
The final installment of $150 million will be held back while waiting on the final number of survivors who are approved.
If you are experiencing emotional distress and would like to receive free counselling and crisis intervention services, then please contact the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310, or online at www.hopeforwellness.ca.