THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation leaders welcomed Tuesday’s court ruling in favour of residential school survivors in the Sixties Scoop class-action lawsuit.
Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum, in a joint statement, said the decision, which agreed Canada had breached its fiduciary duty of care and laid liability on the country for failing to protect the plaintiffs, is a step forward to putting the injustice in the past.
“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 identify and culture. What was taken away can never be regained, but we pray this is a critical step towards their healing,” Achneepineskum said.
The ruling, rendered on Tuesday morning by Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba said Canada had a duty to protect the Aboriginal identity of on-reserve children in Ontario when placed in the care of non-Aboriginal foster or adoptive parents.
It’s been a long and difficult journey for Chief Marte and the survivors Fiddler said, adding that accountability is important.
“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 through this litigation.”
Fiddler went on to say they’re looking to the federal government to move forward together in the spririt of truth and reconciliation.
The class-action suit was launched in 2009 by Marcia Brown Martel and Robert Commanda. According to NAN, between 1965 and 1985 about 16,000 Aboriginal children in Ontario were removed from their homes and placed in non-native communities.
This cost them their Aboriginal identities, the suit contended.