Carolyn Bennett. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

An agreement in principle has been reached that will see $800 million in compensation go to victims of the ’60s Scoop.

Indigenous Crown Relations Minister, Carolyn Bennett, announced the settlement this morning during a news conference on Parliament Hill.

The money will be used for individual compensation for loss of language and culture, $50 million will go towards setting up a foundation for victims and $75 million will be set aside to cover legal fees that have been incurred by the claimants.

Bennett says the agreement is the beginning of a new chapter.

“Languages and culture, healing and apologies — these are essential elements to begin to right the wrongs of this dark and painful chapter, the ’60s Scoop,” she said.

There are about 18 court actions underway for compensation. The Merchant Law Group is involved in 10 of them right across Canada. Tony Merchant commended the federal government for today’s announcement, saying it is a renewal of hope, not an ending, but another beginning.

He says many groups, including Metis and non-status Indians have been left out. He also says the provinces need to take ownership for their role in the ’60s Scoop.

“We have to now succeed for those who were sexually and physically abused, and that means going after the provinces, and we have to succeed for the Metis and non-status Indians, which means going after the provinces,” he said. “So that means the fight really only begins.”

In order for Merchant’s actions to proceed to the next stage, he has to have them certified as a class-action suit by the courts, a process that is a long battle, according to Merchant.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is welcoming the Federal Government’s Sixties Scoop Settlement.

Chief Bobby Cameron of The FSIN hopes the agreement will provide support for reconciliation and the mental health of Indigenous families.

While officials from the FSIN are pleased with the government’s steps towards reconciliation, they’re remaining cautious until all the details of the settlement are revealed.

The Assembly of First Nations says the announcement is a step forward towards healing and reconciliation, however, they say it can never undo the loss of identity, language and culture of First Nations Peoples across the country.

“Children of the Sixties Scoop deserve justice and healing,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde in a media release. “The courts of Canada can never compensate, in any amount, the loss of family, community, identity, language and culture. True justice means creating hope and opportunity for the Survivors.”

The National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is advocating for the settlement to include non-status Indians and Metis.

Chief Robert Bertrand says he is disappointed the 60s Scoop settlement does not fully recognize CAP’s constituents, but says he will continue to lobby on their behalf.

CAP is a national advocacy group for Metis and First Nation people living off-reserve.