An Ontario judge has ruled in favour of survivors of the Sixties Scoop, but a First Nations man in Thunder Bay, Ont., says that should be just the beginning.
On Tuesday, a judge ruled that Canada failed to take reasonable steps to prevent thousands of on-reserve children who were placed with non-Indigenous families from losing their Indigenous heritage during the Sixties Scoop.
The ruling in the long-running and bitterly fought class action paves the way for an assessment of damages the government would have to pay.
“Like the residential schools settlement, there has to be some sort of recommendations. There’s definitely more work to be done,” said William Campbell, one of the more than 16,000 Indigenous people across the province who were scooped up by child welfare agencies in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
“I don’t want it to end at, ‘OK, here’s your money, see you later.’ It can’t be that.”
Campbell was adopted three times and said it took him 38 years to find his family at Beaverhouse First Nation, near Kirkland Lake, Ont.
By the time he made it back home, his parents had died but he was able to connect with other members of his family.
He calls the judge’s ruling great news.
“I’m trying to find a way to get involved,” he said. “Because I was adopted three times.”
But he’s also trying to find more information about what the ruling actually means and what could be coming next.
“They need to explain it to people in lay terms, what the process is,” Campbell said.
‘Problem is still there’
While Campbell expects this ruling to come with some sort of compensation for individuals, he hopes a larger process begins — a process that should be similar to the apology and Truth and Reconciliation Commission that followed the residential schools settlement.
“Even today there are more First Nations kids in care than ever before. Obviously, the problem is still there,” Campbell said.