Nearly 200 Sixties Scoop survivors filled a makeshift courtroom in Saskatoon on Thursday as hearings began for the proposed $800-million settlement.
Survivors gathered in a downtown Saskatoon hotel to share their objections to the agreement in principle.
The hearings were supposed to take place at the city’s courthouse but were moved to accommodate the large group.
Federal Court of Canada Justice Michel Shore opened the hearings acknowledging the ‘loss of identity, loss of culture and loss of language,’ survivors faced when they were removed from their homes.
Peter Van Name was one of those survivors.
Originally from Fort Chipewyan, Alta., Van Name was adopted out as a child.
He was originally part of a lawsuit put forth by a group of survivors and Merchant Law Group.
Last October, the federal government announced the $800-million settlement.
Van Name was one of the survivors who stood with Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett as she made the announcement.
He says Merchant Law Group did not provide him with any information surrounding the settlement.
“I believe that everything was a showcase for them. We were in the background. That’s it,” said Van Name. “Now we have to speak up about this.”
Van Name says he didn’t see the settlement until February. After seeing the terms he decided to cut ties with the law firm and is voicing his objections.
Van Name’s former lawyer Tony Merchant, said much of the objections come down to money.
“Most of the objectors say there should be more than $25,000 to $50,000,” he said.
But Van Name says it’s more than that. It comes down to a lack of transparency.
“I’ve been objecting to this. I’ve been telling the lawyer that I don’t like what he has proposed to us and we don’t want it,” Van Name told reporters outside the hearings.
“He never did ask me if I wanted it. And that was what his job was.”
Van Name is expected to express his objections on Friday.
Inside the hearings, many survivors expressed concern over a lack of consultation.
One survivor broke into tears as she told the judge survivors voices need to be heard.
“There’s no heart and no feeling in it,” said Lisa George. “What has been done to me cannot be bought. I can do my best to bring it all back and put it into myself.”
Survivors outside of Saskatoon submitted their objections via video-conference.