Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Justice for Canada's stolen generations

Between 1965 and 1984, Canadian authorities stole thousands of First Nations children from their parents in an attempt to eradicate their culture. Today, the victims of that attempted genocide finally won the right to compensation:

After a bitter legal battle that has lasted nearly a decade, a Canadian judge has ruled that the government is liable for the harm inflicted on thousands of First Nations children who were forcibly removed from their families and adopted by non-indigenous families.

Between 1965 and 1984, around 16,000 indigenous children were fostered or put up for adoption in an episode which became known as the “Sixties Scoop”.

Ontario superior court justice Edward Belobaba’s ruling Tuesday found in favour of survivors of the operation and their families, who argued that the forced removal robbed the children of their cultural identity and caused emotional damage that has resonated for generations.

“There is … no dispute that great harm was done,” Belobaba wrote. “The ‘scooped’ children lost contact with their families. They lost their aboriginal language, culture and identity. Neither the children nor their foster or adoptive parents were given information about the children’s aboriginal heritage or about the various educational and other benefits that they were entitled to receive. The removed children vanished ‘scarcely without a trace’.”

The victims are aiming for C$1.3 billion in compensation. Hopefully they get it. But that's not enough. There's a name for "forcibly transferring the children of a group to another group in order to destroy it, in whole or in part": genocide. Canada is a party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the surviving architects and footsoldiers of this policy need to be prosecuted for it.