NAN RALLIES TO SUPPORT ‘SIXTIES SCOOP’ SURVIVORS
THUNDER BAY, ON (August 23, 2016): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Deputy Grand Chiefs Anna Betty Achneepineskum and Derek Fox joined First Nation leaders to rally in support of ‘Sixties Scoop’ Survivors as a class action lawsuit begins at the Superior Court of Ontario today.
“It has been a long and difficult path to litigation for Chief Marcia Brown Martel and all of the plaintiffs and we are thrilled that after years of unsuccessful legal challenges by the Government of Canada these courageous Survivors are finally able to hold the government accountable for its actions,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “There is no denying or erasing the transgressions that permanently scarred so many First Nations people through the Sixties Scoop, but we are pleased the time has finally come for the federal government to answer for these transgressions.”
Between 1965 and 1985 an estimated 16,000 Aboriginal children in Ontario, including members of NAN First Nations, were removed from their homes and placed in other (mostly non-native) communities. An entire generation lost its Aboriginal identity and culture through what is known as the Sixties Scoop.
“The Sixties Scoop literally broke families apart, not only the immediate families but many of our First Nations as a whole. Even as adults, it is still difficult for many Survivors to return to their home communities,” said Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum. “Survivors suffered many injustices and the painful stories they have shared include child slavery, exploitation and the loss of their cultural identity, which often resulted in abuse of alcohol and drugs to cope. Tragically, we have lost many to suicide. We strongly encourage the federal government to stop dragging this process out through the courts and reach an agreement with these courageous remaining Survivors.”
The class action was launched in 2009 by Marcia Brown Martel (now Chief of Beaverhouse First Nation) and Robert Commanda. In 2014, a unanimous decision by the Ontario Superior Court dismissed an appeal by the Government of Canada allowing this landmark case on the deprivation of cultural identity to proceed as a class action lawsuit.
In his written decision, Mr. Justice Nordheimer stated that “the importance of Aboriginal rights cannot be disputed” and they are specifically “recognized and affirmed” by Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act and a long line of authorities.
Prior to the 2014 decision, two judges had ruled in favour of the class action proceeding, allowing Chief Brown to be a representative plaintiff for Sixties Scoop Survivors in Ontario.
Note to Media: A rally and press conference for Sixty Scoop Survivors and supporters will be held at 8:15 outside Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, before the commencement of court proceedings at 10 a.m., Ontario Superior Court, Courtroom 4-8.
For more information please contact: Tamara Piche, Communications Officer – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4906 or cell (807) 621-5549 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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