Raised by an affluent family in New Jersey, Les Ainspac says life didn’t make sense, until he found his roots in Shoal Lake First Nation. Ainspac was among the tens of thousands of First Nations children taken into care and placed with non-indigenous families as a part of the Sixties Scoop. 

Growing up near Princeton, New Jersey, he recounts memories of his adoptive family receiving a gift (of peanuts!) from former President Jimmy Carter, and hosting the likes of Muhammad Ali. Still, despite his affluent upbringing, Ainspac says he struggled with dreams and images he could never quite understand.

"Nobody could explain to me what the dreams meant, and I was told to ignore it," Ainspac recalled.

So, after graduating from high school, he went to search for his roots, and eventually found them as a member of Iskatewizaagegan First Nation, where today he's a member of the Midewiwin society and a men's traditional powwow dancer.

"When I came back here, the dreams kicked in, and that's when I started dancing."

Ainspac is among the tens of thousands of individuals expected to file claims following the settlement of a class action lawsuit on behalf of victims of the Sixties Scoop. For 40 years, between 1951 and 1991, First Nations children were taken into care and placed with non-Indigenous parents, where they weren't raised in accordance with their cultural traditions and they weren't taught their traditional languages.

Melanie Vincent is the manager for the Sixties Scoop claims centre in Quebec City, and she says they've already received 5,000 claims.

"We've had lots of calls from people all over the country, even in the United States, because some of the people eligible lived abroad," she noted.

Before the deadline of August 30, 2019, Vincent expects to receive a total of 20,000 to 30,000 claims in total. They are expected to divide $875 million awarded by the courts, as part of the class action settlement agreement.

Once settled, Vincent says individual claims are expected to be worth in the range of $20,000 to $50,000. The government added $75-million for lawyer fees and $50-million will go into a healing fund.

The Sixties Scoop agreement follows the $1.9 billion settlement agreement reached with residential school survivors, as well as a settlement with former day-school students worth at least $200 million. Douglas Lennox was one of the lawyers, who helped fight the Sixties Scoop class action, and he talks about the case.

"This remains a real issue around the world, and Canada is a country that is trying to make sure that this type of child and family disjointment doesn't happen again," he said, during a recent interview.

"It's incredibly disruptive and terrifying for little kids, some of whom were shipped all around the world. One of my clients was shipped to Scotland, and she speaks today with a Scottish accent," Lennox noted.

Not all the survivors have been able to adapt. Another survivor of the Sixties Scoop was Sonya Murray of Kenora, who has written openly about her experience.

While she eventually found her two sisters and had a reunion with them two years ago, she continued to struggle. Sadly, Murray passed away earlier this year, before seeing a settlement.

For more information:

Sixties Scoop Settlement - Contact us

Sisters separated by '60s Scoop ready for reunion

More Local News

Pothole season is here

Spring is in the air, and with the shift from winter snow plowing to snow melting, conditions are perfect for potholes to form. Moisture seeps into the pavement and sub-base, freezes, expands and…

Main st in Kenora open

Main Street in Kenora has opened to vehicles and pedestrians. The CIBC building, demolition site, and Bargin shop remain blocked off by police, as they continue to investigate the cause of Sunday's…

City approves 2019 budget

Kenora city concil officially passed their budget for 2019. “This budget was a particularly difficult one for council," said Mayor Dan Reynard. From the city's perspective, the 3.55 per cent increase…

Suspect apprehended

Police have apprehended a man, following a hold and secure at Kenora schools this afternoon. At around 2:10 p.m. members of the Kenora OPP detachment responded to an incident in the north side of the…

Hold and secure in Kenora

A hold and secure was been put in place for students in the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, as well as the Kenora Catholic District School Board. Senior staff from both school boards are…

CIBC branch manager provides update for customers

CIBC Branch manager Jackie Hailstone said Sunday's fire on Main St didn't impact the inside of the building too badly. "The inside is actually not too bad. We have more concerns around the outside of…

Main street clean up joint effort

No word yet on when Main St in Kenora will reopen to vehicular traffic. The clean up of the street is a joint effort between the Kenora Fire & Emergency Services Department, Kenora OPP and City of…

Kenora mayor proud of how the community stepped up

Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard said it's always difficult when tragic events happen in the community, such as Sunday's fatal fire in downtown Kenora. "Such a tragedy anytime we see, or feel, a loss of life…

Kiiwetinoong member lobbies for at-risk youth

Kiiwetinoong member Sol Mamakwa is lobbying for more help in the Far North, when it comes to children in care. At Queen's Park, he again questioned the government's cancellation of the child…

Tragedy and Heroes

Kenora fire chief Todd Skene is still working with investigators and business owners, after yesterday's fire on Main Street. "On behalf of the city, our thoughts are with the person, who passed away,…

KenoraOnline.com is Kenora's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.