'Feeling forgotten': 60's Scoop survivor speaks out
Published Monday, October 9, 2017 6:03PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, October 10, 2017 6:39AM CST
Thanksgiving weekend is especially difficult for Constance Calderwood. Fifty one years ago, the Métis woman she was taken from her mother at birth and adopted into a non-indigenous family. She was one of 20,000 indigenous children ripped from their homes in the sixties scoop, a practice that lasted decades.
“Days like these is when I wish I had a mom and dad and siblings to all sit around a table with that I don’t have,” Calderwood said holding back tears.
On Friday, Minister of Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett announced a $800 million settlement with sixties scoop survivors to try to right the wrongs of the past. While each victim is expected to receive at least $25,000, Métis individuals are excluded.
“Someone who is Métis will not receive any money under this agreement,” said Jeffrey Wilson, the lawyer who represented Ontario’s survivors in a class action lawsuit. Wilson said the settlement also excludes children who can’t be identified because there are no records of their removal from their First Nations communities.
“It just angers me. It’s like it’s all focused on status and the Métis is just thrown under the rug like we don’t exist,” said Calderwood.
“The program was really called Adopt Indian-Métis and of course Métis and Non-Status are left out of this settlement,” said Tony Merchant, a Saskatchewan lawyer leading a class action lawsuit on behalf of Indian, First Nations, Metis and other indigenous people taken from their homes and placed in adoption homes.
Calderwood says for her, it’s not about the money. But she believes recognition from the government will help her heal.
“Why do they get all these things when we went through the same thing?” Calderwood asks.
Wilson hopes the Foundation dedicated to reconciliation—which he describes as the soul of the agreement—will help Metis individuals heal.
“Métis will receive services no different than status or non-status Indians,” Wilson said.
“Nothing prevents an organization of Metis survivors from suing the federal government or suing the provincial government or a children’s aid society or superintendent of child welfare because Metis are not a party to this agreement,” Wilson said.
Calderwood intends to keep fighting for compensation.
“I’m going to keep fighting and it’s not for the money. Residential schools [settlement], we got left out of there too,” Calderwood said.
Calderwood intends to host a rally on behalf of Non-Status First Nations peoples and Métis individuals at Thunderbird House on October 27.