Eleanore Sunchild, a Cree lawyer who specializes in Aboriginal law and has represented Sixties Scoop adoptees, says, "a lot of times, they were so young they don't remember their family, they don't know what community they come from or even what tribe they belong to."
Sunchild says that loss of Indigenous identity coupled with separation from family is often devastating.
"The whole loss of being raised in a different home and not exactly knowing why, why they were removed — there's something wrong with them? Or was there something wrong with their family? And in a lot of instances it was just because of the policy that was in place at the time," she said.Author and Sixties Scoop survivor Raven Sinclair, an associate professor of social work at the University of Regina, has written extensively on the subject. She is in the midst of a five-year study with the aim of creating a national database of adoptees.
Kicknosway says some people don't necessarily want to return to their communities.
She says they "only want to know they belong somewhere" and "have validation that they were alive" and that maybe someone missed them when they were taken away.
Her goal is to create a network that can provide practical, long-term support similar to what is available to some of the people affected by the residential school system.
|Cree lawyer Eleanore Sunchild, who represents survivors of the Sixties Scoop, says it's hard for adoptees to track down their biological families because many of them were so young when they were taken that they don't remember any details about their relatives or their community. (Connie Walker/CBC News)|
"An adoptee you know here in town could call up a therapist who's been approved by us ... and get some help," she said. "For some, it's been a lifetime of abuse, so it's going to take a long time for them to recover."
NISCW has set up a toll-free number to help adoptees searching for family connections and to provide peer support.