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Monday, February 5, 2024

Canada: Support for Adoptees | Stronger Than the Scoop

Campaign seeks to support ’60s Scoop survivors

Educating the public about the lasting impacts of the ’60s Scoop on Indigenous individuals and families is the mission behind the Southern Chiefs’ Organization’s newest education and awareness campaign.

“It is essential we recognize the lasting impacts of the ’60s Scoop on Anishinaabe and Dakota citizens,” Jerry Daniels, grand chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) said in a press release sent out on Jan 17.

The campaign, called “Stronger Than the Scoop,” will honour and care for survivors of the ’60s Scoop and their families.

The Scoop saw the removal of Indigenous children from their communities, families and cultures from the 1960s to the ’80s. An estimated 20,000 to 40,000 First Nation, Métis and Inuit children were removed from their families and communities by the federal government and adopted out into non-Indigenous households.

According to the University of British Columbia, the ’60s Scoop began because the federal government started to phase out sending Indigenous children to residential schools in the 1950s and ‘60s, though the practice continued for decades.

The government, however, deemed many Indigenous families “unsuitable” to care for their children, and soon provinces were legislated to be able to use child protection services to remove Indigenous children from their families.

Indigenous Foundations, a group out of British Columbia, says that children who grew up in conditions where their identity was suppressed and where they were abused often eventually experienced psychological and emotional problems that sometimes didn’t emerge until later in life when they learned the truth about their roots.

“We often talk about resilience when it comes to our peoples, and that certainly applies to those who survived the ’60s Scoop,” Daniels said, calling it another dark chapter in what was an “epidemic” of child apprehension which started with residential schools. “We need to acknowledge the systemic harm and generational trauma that was caused and do what we can to help with healing.”

Chief Gordon Bluesky of the Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation, 298 kilometres northeast of Brandon, extended his gratitude to the national Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation of Canada for providing support to raise awareness of the impact of the Scoop, he said.

“I am pleased and proud to see SCO create this campaign to help bring awareness to this practice that continues to impact our citizens. It is essential that all citizens in Canada learn the truth about the practice and the ongoing impact of the ’60s Scoop,” Bluesky said.

The SCO is focusing the campaign on survivors of its member nations.  The organization represents 34 Anishinaabe and Dakota nations in southern Manitoba, and more than 85,500 citizens, its website states.

The SCO held an upcoming Survivors’ Healing Gathering in Winnipeg the week the press release was sent out, which featured keynote speaker Colleen Cardinal Hele, the executive director of the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network and ’60s Scoop survivor.

A virtual sharing circle for survivors was held on Jan. 25, and this month, a sharing circle for survivors will take place in Brandon on Feb. 10.

While the damage done by the Scoop remains, the SCO is committed to doing all it can to help survivors and their families regain their languages, cultures and identities, Daniels said.  He also put a call out for all Canadians to learn about the ’60s Scoop and the effect it had on Indigenous people so that they can help the SCO and other organizations do everything they can to help those impacted on their healing journeys.

“To our survivors: I see you and I honour you for what you have experienced. I stand with you as you move forward on your healing journeys,” Daniels said.


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