60 scoop survivors deserve FULL payment.
60 scoop survivors deserve FULL payment.
Why this petition matters
The Sixties Scoop was a period in which a series of policies were enacted in Canada that enabled child welfare authorities to take, or "scoop up," Indigenous children from their families and communities for placement in foster homes, from which they would be adopted by white families.Despite its name referencing the 1960s, the Sixties Scoop began in the mid-to-late 1950s and persisted into the 1980s.
It is estimated that a total of 20,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and fostered or adopted out primarily to white middle-class families as part of the Sixties Scoop.
Each province had different foster programs and adoption policies; Saskatchewan had the only targeted Indigenous transracial adoption program, the Adopt Indian Métis (AIM) Program. The term "Sixties Scoop" itself was coined in the early 1980s by social workers in the British Columbia Department of Social Welfare to describe their own department's practice of child apprehension. The phrase first appears in print in a 1983 report commissioned by the Canadian Council on Social Development, titled "Native Children and the Child Welfare System", in which researcher Patrick Johnston noted the source for the term and adopted its usage. It is similar to the term "Baby Scoop Era," which refers to the period from the late 1950s to the 1980s in which large numbers of children were taken from unmarried mothers for adoption.
The government policies that led to the Sixties Scoop were discontinued in the mid-1980s, after Ontario chiefs had passed resolutions against them, and a Manitoba judicial inquiry had harshly condemned them. Associate Chief Judge Edwin C. Kimelman headed the Manitoba inquiry, which resulted in the publication of "No quiet place / Review Committee on Indian and Metis Adoptions and Placements", better known as the "Kimelman Report".
Multiple lawsuits have since been filed in Canada by former wards of the Sixties Scoop, including a series of class-action lawsuits launched in five provinces, such as the one filed in British Columbia in 2011. Beaverhouse First Nation Chief Marcia Brown Martel was the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit filed in Ontario in 2009. On 14 February 2017, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba ruled that the government was liable for the harm caused by the Sixties Scoop;and on 6 October 2017, an $800-million settlementwas announced for the Martel case. As Métis and non-status First Nations people are currently excluded from the agreement, National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network—a group led by Sixties Scoop survivors based in Ottawa—has advocated for the settlement to be rejected unless it includes all Indigenous people who were taken from their homes and forcibly adopted.
In 1977, about 15,500 Indigenous children were in the care of child welfare authorities, an estimate based on data from Indian and Northern Affairs, Health and Welfare Canada, Statistics Canada, and provincial departments of social services. They represented 20% of all Canadian children living in care, even though Indigenous children made up less than 5% of the total child population.
In 1983, Patrick Johnston, then a program director at the Canadian Council on Social Development, coined the term "Sixties Scoop" in a report on Aboriginal child welfare, titled "Native Children and the Child Welfare System". His research found that Aboriginal children were being disproportionately taken into the child welfare system.
Johnston, in researching his report, collected statistical data from various stakeholders within the community, including different levels of government, Aboriginal organizations, and band councils. He got the idea for the term "Sixties Scoop" from a social worker who disclosed "with tears in her eyes – that it was common practice in BC in the mid-sixties to 'scoop' from their mothers on reserves almost all newly born children. She was crying because she realized – 20 years later – what a mistake that had been."
The proportion of children in care who were Aboriginal was 40-50% in Alberta; 60-70% in Saskatchewan; and 50-60% in Manitoba. According to the Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission, "Johnston estimated that, across Canada, Aboriginal children were 4.5 times more likely than non-Aboriginal children to be in the care of child welfare authorities." Similar findings have been reported by other experts.
Most of the children who were removed by social workers did not return to their communities. A 1980 study by the Canadian Council on Social Development found that 78% of status First Nations children who were adopted were placed with non-Indigenous families.
Raven Sinclair, an associate professor at the University of Regina and a member of Gordon First Nation, wrote an article titled Identity lost and found: Lessons from The Sixties Scoop in which she discusses the broader context of the term:
At the same time as we may be alarmed by the statistics, it is important to recognize that the Sixties Scoop was not a specific child welfare program or policy. It names one segment of a larger period in Aboriginal child welfare history where, because questionable apprehensions and adoptions figured prominently, a label was applied. The "Sixties Scoop" has evolved as a descriptor that is now applied to the whole of the Aboriginal child welfare era, simplistically defined here as roughly the time from the waning of residential schools to the mid-1980s period of child welfare devolution and last closings of Indian residential schools.... The white social worker, following on the heels of the missionary, the priest and the Indian agent, was convinced that the only hope for the salvation of the Indian people lay in the removal of their children.
The effects of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop on Aboriginal people and their families resulted in generational and historical trauma that negatively affected parenting skills, social values, economic conditions, and future success. This trauma has caused overwhelming rates of suicide, homicide, depression, substance abuse, alcoholism, child abuse, domestic violence, struggles of self-identity, and other social problems.These factors, combined with prejudicial attitudes toward Aboriginal parenting skills and a tendency to see Aboriginal poverty as a symptom of neglect, and self-inflicting rather than as a consequence of failed government policies which have resulted in grossly disproportionate rates of child apprehension among Aboriginal people.