OTTAWA — Metis people say they feel left out of the federal Liberal government's multimillion-dollar settlement with victims of the so-called '60s Scoop, which saw Indigenous children removed from their homes and placed into the foster care system.
Duane Morrisseau-Beck, a '60s Scoop survivor and a director of the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network, likened his feelings to when he first learned he was adopted as a child in Manitoba.
"It just brought me right back to when I was six years old," Morrisseau-Beck said Tuesday of the federal government's announcement last week.
"I still get chills because it really reinforced, sort of, that memory.... It goes back to feeling disconnected and not wanted."
It's a feeling many in the Metis community know well, he added.
"I have been inundated with Facebook postings and inbox messages asking why we are not included," he said. "I don't have an answer to that question."
The Metis National Council has also been flooded with calls, said president Clement Chartier, who complained of having been left in the dark about the settlement, which commits up to $750 million in compensation for status Indian and Inuit victims.
"I am disappointed that the federal government didn't ask us or consult us about this whole process and let us know it was happening," Chartier said in an interview.
"That would have been a reasonable thing to do; at least we would have been able to voice our concerns and determine what are the issues and what do we need to have it resolved and have Metis Nation citizens affected by the '60s Scoop dealt with."
The settlement follows an Ontario court decision from February, when the federal government was found liable for the harm done to at-risk, on-reserve Indigenous children who were placed in non-Aboriginal homes from 1965 to 1984 under terms of a federal-provincial agreement.
The office of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said Tuesday it is committed to working with other scoop victims.
"Part of that collective work includes working with our provincial and territorial partners to find a way forward on the outstanding '60s Scoop claims," the office said in a statement.
It also pointed to the federal investment of $50 million to revitalize Metis, First Nations and Inuit languages and cultures.
The provinces, too, bear as much responsibility as Ottawa — if not more — for the damages wrought by removing children from their families and putting them in the social services system, said lawyer Tony Merchant.
"We are suing all across Canada," Merchant said. "Those actions will continue. They are not settled and the actions against the provincial governments, I hope, will recover for the Metis and non-status Indians ... they too are left out."
Merchant said his group is also seeking additional compensation for status and non-status Indians as well as Metis who were sexually and physically abused as a result of having been removed from their homes.
"The damages that Canada is paying only address loss of culture," he said.
"We have many really horrible stories of sexual and physical abuse — particularly sexual abuse of adopting fathers or older brothers having sexual relations with girls, mostly, who came into their homes but were different."
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Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press