Lawsuit Claiming Loss of Cultural Identity Due to 60's Scoop to Go Ahead

Article excerpt

Cultural identity loss lawsuit to proceed

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TORONTO - A class action lawsuit which claims a loss of cultural identity was suffered by aboriginal children adopted into non-indigenous homes during the so called "60's Scoop" was given the green light to proceed by an Ontario court on Tuesday.

The case -- which focuses on a period between the 1960s and the 1980s when thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes and placed with non-native families -- is being flagged by the plaintiffs' lawyer as a landmark suit against the federal government.

"This is the first case in the Western world where indigenous persons have come forward and said that our culture is as important as our land claims, fishing rights and hunting rights," said Jeffery Wilson.

"Where they were placed, Canada then turned a blind eye to preserving and protecting their culture. So we essentially lost a generation of aboriginal children who feel detached."

The federal Crown has argued that the claim for loss of cultural identity isn't known in law, said Wilson.

But the case's representative plaintiffs -- Marcia Brown Martel and Robert Commanda -- maintain that their claimed loss of cultural identity has left them feeling they don't belong in aboriginal or mainstream society.

Martel, now the 50-year-old Chief of the Beaverhouse First Nation in northern Ontario's Kirkland Lake region, was adopted when she was nine years old, at which point her aboriginal name was changed.

She only found out years later that a federal register listed her as deceased under her original name.

"The name I use now...it's not my name," she said in angry, measured tones. "How does one lose their name! But I did. My name was taken from me, my very name. …