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Metis people from across the country who were taken from their homes during the Sixties Scoop gathered in Winnipeg to share their stories this weekend, as the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) and Metis National Council develop a framework to begin negotiations with the federal government on a settlement. 

The Metis and other non-status indian survivors were not included from a recent federal settlement of $800 million to First Nations people involved in the Sixties Scoop. 

MMF president David Chartrand says they are hosting a symposium this weekend to talk to survivors and get a sense of what they feel justice should look like. He says by doing this, they can begin to negotiate a settlement with the federal government as opposed to battling it out in court. 

"I think our country sees the wrong it committed," Chartrand said. "We're not going to just get a lawyer to put out a class action suit and throw a number down on the table, we're sitting down and asking our people how they find peace and what they think the country and the province have to do." 

Chartrand says both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Crown-Indigenous Relations minister Carolyn Bennett have agreed to this approach. 

"I think justice is finally coming," Chartrand said. "A lot of people want this settled. They want to see it go away so the next generation of leaders won't have to worry about dealing with this." 

Chartrand says he's hoping to reach an agreement with Ottawa prior to the October 2019 federal election, because he's worried it could be thrown out the window if the Progressive Conservatives win. 

Golden West news has reached out to federal PC leader Andrew Scheer's office for comment but have yet to hear back. 

Metis National Council president Clement Chartier says he's happy this will be settled out of court and hopes negotiations can begin in good faith after a framework is developed. 

"We're seeking a political solution to this matter and that's the federal government's position as well," Chartier said. "There are lawyers beating around the bush who are trying to find Metis Sixties Scoop clients because they can smell something in the wind, but we're holding steady on the fact that we want to settle this out of the courts." 

Chartrand and Chartier spoke about a lawyer - who they did not name - who attended the symposium's Friday night reception to look for clients. 

Both strongly condemned that lawyer prior to consultations on Saturday and say they asked them to leave.  

"For someone to come here and try to extract clients in the weakest moments of their lives is absolutely wrong and it's not what this conference is about," Chartrand said. "This is not a litigation, it's a negotiation." 

"We are not here as commodities for others," added Chartier. 

MMF vice president Denise Thomas' family went through the Sixties Scoop, and she hopes the symposium gives families like her's a chance to move forward. 

"My mother had to hide in a bush so her first born daughter wouldn't be taken away from her," Thomas said. "She fought hard to keep our family together and I'm grateful for that because some families didn't get that. It's going to be emotional, but the families that are here are in a setting where they will feel comfortable and supported." 

The symposium wraps up Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. 

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