Indigenous leaders in Saskatchewan are responding to the federal government’s decision to compensate survivors of the ‘60s Scoop.
Earlier today, Indigenous and Crown Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett announced the compensation package, which will see between $25,000 and $50,000 distributed to some 20,000 survivors of the ‘60s Scoop. The ‘60s Scoop saw Indigenous children taken from their homes and adopted out to non-Indigenous communities, resulting in a loss of culture and identity.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said the lobbying organization is thankful the government is “righting the wrongs” of the past. However there are concerns which still exist.
“We’re thankful; however, what about all of those First Nations who live off reserve who’ve been kidnapped as well,” Cameron said. “We can’t forget about [them], because there were thousands of those people who were kidnapped off reserve as opposed to those on reserve.”
He explained the current settlement only works for those who resided on reserve when they were taken from their homes through government-mandated programs.
Cameron also expressed concerns about the lack of plans made available regarding the payment dollars. He said he’s worried because the current government has drawn out the process of distributing $2.6 billion promised in 2015 for Indigenous education programming.
“That’s going to be the next biggest hurdle, how’s it going to roll out and how long is it going to take?” Cameron said. “We’re faced with the 2.6 billion education investment that was announced two years ago… two years later some of our First Nations still haven’t received anything.”
He said the FSIN doesn’t want to “re-open wounds” or cause more grief
A portion of the $750 million in compensation announced by the federal government has been dedicated to funding healing initiatives, according to Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.
Cameron said setting aside money is a step in the right direction, but the term “healing” has many definitions to Indigenous people.
“What does that mean, healing?” Cameron asked. “For some of us, that means building mental wellness centres in our First Nation communities… There’s so many definitions to that word healing, and we’re not here to say ‘this is how you’re going to heal.’”
On Twitter: @BryanEneas
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