|August 16, 2016
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Dear Prime Minister,
Between the 1960s and 1980s, thousands of First Nations, Metis and Inuit children across Canada, including Ontario, were taken from their families and placed in foster or adoptive care in the ‘sixties scoop’ – often without their parents’ consent. Some of these children experienced overt racism, as well as psychological and physical abuse. Many of them lost their culture, traditions, religions and practices.In 2009, two Sixties Scoop survivors from Ontario launched a class action lawsuit against the Government of Canada on behalf of the estimated 16,000 children involved in the scoop, with the hope that such a case would help this generation of Indigenous children. They did so because the federal government had an obligation to protect those children, and failed in that duty.
After seven years of delay, appeals and requests for adjournment by the federal government, they will finally get their day in court on August 23, 2016.
We are writing to you because you have publicly stated that Canada has a sacred and legal obligation to First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. We deeply appreciate your public commitment to partnership, positive change, meaningful and — in your words — “immediate progress on issues that matter most.” And few things matter more than acknowledging and righting historic, and ongoing, wrongs affecting children.
We honour your words and are looking for their transformation into meaningful action. That’s why we believe your government will support our call for justice.
We are calling on you to honour your personal commitment — and Canada’s values — in two ways:
- Commit your government to resolving this issue without more delay.
- Support our call to recognize and right an immense wrong — with both words and deeds.
This case is about Canadian values – past, present and future. In Canada, we expect our governments to respect rights, acknowledge wrongs, change government conduct that gave rise to the injustice and make reparations and ensure wrongdoing is not repeated. This is an opportunity for your government to make a statement about what Canada is stands for as it approaches its 150th birthday: a country that respects every person in Canada’s right to live the life they wish to have with all their rights recognized and affirmed.
This moment is an opportunity for Canada to put an ugly legacy behind us, for the government to take steps to reform its conduct so that the injustice does not continue and build a better future for all. It’s a chance to open the door for future generations to grow up healthy and proud of who they are.
Colleen Hele-Cardinal & Duane Morrisseau-Beck
National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network
Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowini
Ontario Regional Chief
Broadcaster & Curator
Former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
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