Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Mandela's Gift to Canada

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Mandela's Gift to Canada

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Mandela's gift to Canada


An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Dec. 9:

The federal government wants to halt an aboriginal lawsuit for loss of cultural identity. It's currently appealing an Ontario court's certification of a class-action suit by aboriginal children who were forcibly fostered or adopted into non-native families. The government is wrong to try to cut off their access to the courts.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, child-welfare agencies removed thousands of aboriginal children from their homes and placed them with non-native families. Proverbially known as the Sixties Scoop, the children were placed with non-indigenous families and as a result lost their cultural identity. Best estimates of the number of children taken range between 16,000 and 20,000, the vast majority of whom still survive.

The lawsuit's representative plaintiffs maintain their loss of cultural identity has left them, and others like them, in a cultural identity no man's land -- feeling they don't fit in either aboriginal or mainstream society.

For years, the federal government, rightly, resisted calls for it to simply open the public purse and pay compensation for loss-of-culture claims.

Faced with that refusal, a group of affected individuals launched a class-action lawsuit that was finally certified in Toronto last summer by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

This was their second attempt to launch a class action. An earlier attempt in 2009 was unsuccessful. But after years of legal wrangling, a new certification hearing was ordered that resulted in the suit's certification July 16 of this year. …

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