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Monday, July 8, 2024

BOOK REVIEW: The Sixties Scoop and the Stolen Lives of Indigenous Children

Righting Canada’s Wrongs: The Sixties Scoop and the Stolen Lives of Indigenous Children (book)

by Andrew Bomberry and Teresa Edwards

 

Righting Canada’s Wrongs: The Sixties Scoop and the Stolen Lives of Indigenous Children is the latest in the long-running Righting Canada’s Wrongs series, which explores historical instances of discrimination by the Canadian government. In this volume, Andrew Bomberry (Haudenosaunee) and Teresa Edwards (Mi’gmaq) tackle the difficult task of writing a history of the Sixties Scoop that is accessible, but not oversimplified.

The Sixties Scoop refers to the period from 1951 to 1985 when Canada amended the Indian Act to extend provincial child welfare agency power to on-reserve Indigenous families. This amendment led to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children being disproportionately removed from their families, or “scooped,” by non-Indigenous social workers. Children were adopted out to white families not just in Canada, but internationally, and, in addition to being removed from their families and cultures, many suffered abuse in their foster and adoptive homes. Like residential schools, this policy aimed to assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian society and eliminate Indigenous cultures.

Understanding the context of the Sixties Scoop is important to understanding its long-reaching effects. Bomberry and Edwards begin the book with pre-colonial history and the impact of colonization, discuss the history and long-term repercussions of the Indian Act, and cover the history of residential schools before getting into the Sixties Scoop in detail. These are frank, matter-of-fact presentations of history that fit an impressive amount of information into a relatively small number of pages. The authors also actively demonstrate the plurality of Indigenous cultures and experiences throughout the book, drawing examples from across First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, with special attention paid to the different policies the Canadian government had toward different populations.

The authors centre conversations on Indigenous activism, healing, and strength rather than focusing on abuse and despair. A section on the limitations of the 2017 Sixties Scoop Settlement Agreement, for example, is followed by a list of healing organizations, such as the Legacy of Hope Foundation. The Sixties Scoop and the Stolen Lives of Indigenous Children embraces complexity in the history it tells, which is further enhanced by the inclusion of first-hand accounts from survivors of the Scoop. Their stories provide a plurality of experiences, adding additional nuance to the book.

The Sixties Scoop and the Stolen Lives of Indigenous Children includes a timeline, glossary, additional resources and further reading, and an index in its backmatter, as well as URLs for videos throughout the book. It is timely and well-researched, an excellent resource for teachers, librarians, and parents interested in educating young people about the harms these policies had – and continue to have – on Indigenous communities, as well as the continued overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care.

Reviewer: Allison Mills

Publisher: Lorimer

DETAILS

Price: $34.95

Page Count: 112 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978-1-45941-669-7

Issue Date: June 2024

Categories: Children and YA Non-fiction, Kids’ Books

Age Range: 12+

 

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Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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