Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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February 14, 2017


THUNDER BAY, ON (February 14, 2017): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum welcomed today’s ruling that the Government of Canada breached its fiduciary duty of care and is liable for failing to protect plaintiffs in the landmark Sixties Scoop class action lawsuit from the loss of their cultural identity.

“Today our hearts are with Chief Brown Martel and all of the Sixties Scoop survivors who were taken from their homes as children and raised far away from their communities without their identity and culture. What was taken away can never be regained, but we pray this is a critical step towards their healing,” said Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum. “We are inspired by the determination and dignity of Chief Brown Martel, who never lost hope throughout this lengthy and tiring process. Her strength and courage over a decade of legal battles is an inspiration to us all, and we will continue to support the survivors and their communities in every way possible.”

In his decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba found that: ‘Canada had a common law duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent on-reserve Indian children in Ontario, who had been placed in the care of non-aboriginal foster or adoptive parents, from losing their aboriginal identity. Canada breached this common law duty of care.’

“This has been a long and difficult journey for Chief Brown Martel and all of the survivors who lost so much of their childhood, and we are pleased that the Government of Canada is finally being held accountable for the devastating legacy of the Sixties Scoop,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “We honour the plaintiffs and all survivors for their unfailing strength and courage in the face of overwhelming opposition from the federal government at every step throughout this litigation. We now look to our federal Treaty partner to move forward with us in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.”

NAN has supported and advocated for justice for Sixties Scoop survivors, including calling for a federal and provincial inquiry, since 2005. The class action was launched in 2009 by Marcia Brown Martel (now Chief of Beaverhouse First Nation) and Robert Commanda.

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.
Note: A formal response to the decision will be made at 1 p.m. today at the Centre for Native Child and Family Well-Being, 30 College Street, Toronto.

The event will be livestreamed at:

More information is available at and


For more information please contact: Michael Heintzman, Director of Communications – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4965 or cell (807) 621-2790 or by email

To download news release: click here