Indigenous children removed from homes in the 1960s begin to heal
For three decades across Canada, thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes and adopted.
by Lauren Pelley Mon Nov 02 2015
KEMPTVILLE ....one by one, the 40 or so attendees of this Indigenous Adoptee Gathering introduce themselves to the group. Some are from Ontario, others from Manitoba or the Yukon. Some are Cree, others Métis or Ojibway.
Most are members of a stolen generation.
Beginning in the mid-1960s — and for several decades after — thousands of indigenous children across Canada were removed from their homes and typically placed with white middle-class families in Canada and abroad.
Patrick Johnston, author of the 1983 report Native Children and the Child Welfare System, dubbed it the Sixties Scoop.
Those children are now adults, sharing their stories of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, mental illness and a sense of isolation from being torn between Euro-Canadian and indigenous culture....
The Sixties Scoop wasn’t a government policy, but rather a noticeable trend once mandatory residential school education was phased out in the 1950s and 1960s....
Child welfare services were expanded to indigenous communities across Canada through the late 1960s, which “left a profound and negative impact on these communities,” notes the report.
“There was no publicity for years and years about the brutalization of our families and children by the larger Canadian society,” one member of the indigenous community told the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry launched in 1988 by Manitoba’s provincial government.
“Kidnapping was called placement in foster homes. Exporting aboriginal children to the U.S. was called preparing Indian children for the future. Parents who were heartbroken by the destruction of their families were written off as incompetent people.”
Manitoba’s government established a review committee on “Indian and Métis Adoptions and Placements” in the 1980s, headed by Associate Chief Family Court Judge Edwin Kimelman, and imposed a halt on out-of-province placements of indigenous children.
After reviewing the files of every indigenous Manitoban child adopted by an out-of-province family, Kimelman wrote in a 1984 report that “cultural genocide” had been taking place in a “systematic, routine manner.”
While not every placement of an indigenous child in the Canadian adoption system was a result of the Sixties Scoop, the number of children removed and placed into foster care or adoptive families likely numbered in the tens of thousands....
In June, Manitoba became the first province to offer a formal apology to thousands of victims with Premier Greg Selinger promising the topic will be included in the provincial school curriculum. But what should be done throughout the rest of Canada? A few organizations offered their viewpoints of how the federal and provincial governments should be handling the aftermath of the Sixties Scoop....