The Canadian government has agreed to pay approximately $600 million to the victims of a program of forced adoption it inflicted on indigenous communities in the 1960s through 1980s, the New York Times reports. According to the BBC, thousands of indigenous children were removed from their families and communities and placed with non-indigenous families in what is known as the "Sixties Scoop." Some children were sent as far as New Zealand and Europe, and many never saw their families again. For decades, social workers unfamiliar with indigenous life would remove children who weren't neglected or in danger. The program was part of a pattern of attempts to wipe out the culture of indigenous peoples. "The loss of culture, the loss of language, it has dragged with me my whole life." the Canadian Press quotes Stewart Garnett as saying. He was taken from his family in Winnipeg and placed in California.
As part of the settlement announced Friday, which could affect up to 30,000 people, approximately $600 million will go directly to the victims of the Sixties Scoop. Another $40 million will fund an Indigenous Healing Foundation. Canada's minister of crown-indigenous relations says it's a first step "to right the wrong of this dark and painful chapter." Chief Marcia Brown Martel, a victim of the Sixties Scoop and a lead plaintiff in one of the multiple lawsuits settled Friday, says she has "great hope ... this will never, ever happen in Canada again." One of the lawsuits settled Friday had been going on for eight years. A number of other lawsuits are still pending.