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Sask. '60s Scoop survivor pleased with federal settlement announcement
Published Friday, October 6, 2017 6:24PM CST
Perry Boyko looks through the stack of papers he received 10 years ago. They document his birth, and the days that followed.
“I was taken from Balcarras hospital when I was three days old,” said Boyko.
Boyko was part of what's known as the '60s Scoop, when an estimated 20,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in non-Indigenous households. Boyko's mother was visited by a social worker shortly after she gave birth in January of 1965.
“She signed to give me away the next day right after the visit from the worker,” said Boyko.
Boyko was then adopted by a family in Regina. His name was changed. His culture was erased.
“Growing up wasn't bad,” said Boyko. “But I still felt that I was missing something, like I felt I didn't belong.”
Boyko's search for his identity is ongoing, but Friday's announcement by the federal government brings him one step closer to healing.
“This is heartbreaking as we learn how far they were - not only from their families and their communities, but also their land and their water - and of course their culture and language,” said Carolyn Bennet, crown-Indigenous relations minister.
The federal government announced it will provide up to $750 million in direct compensation to the survivors, $50 million towards a foundation aimed at helping indigenous families heal and another $75 million for legal fees.
“I have great hope that because we've reached this plateau that this again will never, ever happen in Canada,” said Chief Marcia Brown Martel.
It's a huge victory for Regina lawyer Tony Merchant and his law group, who represent more than 3,000 victims of the 60s scoop. He says this settlement is just a start.
“There's no compensation for people who were sexually or physically abused. There's no compensation for the metis, for non-status Indians,” said Merchant.
Now merchant plans to move forward against the provinces, and hopes to get even more compensation than was announced on Friday.
“It was the provinces that picked up the children,” said Merchant. “They are more responsible than the federal government.”
Two years ago, Premier Brad Wall announced a long-awaited apology would be coming. In august, he said the apology would happen before he retires.
The province now says they're hoping it can take place by the end of this year. They issued a statement that said, “We have attempted to schedule a time when both the FSIN and MNS can be present to make a formal 60s scoop apology and potential dates have been moved several times."
In the meantime, for survivors like Boyko, it's about acknowledging what happened and finding a way to keep moving forward.