Acknowledgement of Métis struggles still out of reach

Red Deer and area Métis among families devastated by ’60s Scoop

Chief Marcia Brown Martel sings outside the parliament buildings following a government news conference announcing a compensation package for indigenous victims of the sixties scoop, in Ottawa on Oct. 6. (File photo by The Canadian Press)

Being left out of ’60s Scoop compensation shows that discrimination against Métis people continues, but efforts to be recognized will also persist, says a local Métis representative.

Recently federal government announced $750 million in compensation for Aboriginal children who were taken from their families between 1965 to 1984 and adopted by non-Indigenous families.

Raye St. Denys, executive director of Shining Mountains Living Community Society, said Métis in Central Alberta were among the families who lost children.

“I know of at least one family. The uncle of the young lady lives here now. He had never met his niece. He was never allowed to even know she existed until she finally made her way back to her family,” St. Denys said.

She said that was about 10 years ago when she was 34.

“The only thing that young lady wanted was to meet her mom and her mom had died of lupus three months before she made contact with the family.”

The woman had suffered abuse at the hands of her adoptive family and it was heartbreaking to tell her that her mom had died, she said.

St. Denys said she was shocked when Métis were ignored in the settlement since they were so involved in ‘60s Scoop discussions.

“They were very vocal throughout the process, but at the last moment the federal government only acknowledged First Nations, but that atrocity happened over and over to Métis children as well.”

Non-status Aboriginals were also denied compensation.

In 2016 the Supreme Court of Canada declared Métis and non-status Indians are “Indians” under under Section 91(24) of the 1867 Constitutional Act and fall under federal jurisdiction.

St. Denys said she thought progress was being made because the Trudeau government had developed a working relationship with the Métis National Council.

“Historically in Canada Métis people have been invisible, sidelined people. We lived in road allowances. We weren’t welcome in towns.”

The stigma continues, she said.

“I hope that our Métis National Council and our provincial councils take a leadership role and insist that our Métis people be recognized as ’60s Scoop survivors and make the federal government acknowledge the impact on Métis people.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

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