Canada Must Recognize its History of Forced Adoptions

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In July 2018, The Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released a report titled "The Shame is Ours." The report recommended that the government of Canada take action to undo some of the harm created by the adoption mandate in the post-war era. In that time, over 1,000,000 mothers, adoptees, and fathers across Canada were denied their basic human rights.

We are demanding that the government of Canada recognize the role that both federal and provincial governments played in unjustly separating adoptees from their parents and denying them their basic human rights to know who they are and where they came from.

We insist that the government of Canada takes up the following recommendations

Recommendation #1

That the Government of Canada issue a formal apology on behalf of all Canadians to the mothers and their children who were subjected to forced adoption practices in the years following World War II. The apology must:

• be informed by the work of an advisory group established to provide direction on the content of the apology;

• fulfill five criteria: acknowledge the wrongdoing, accept responsibility, express regret, provide assurance that this practice will not occur again and provide reparation through action; and,

• be delivered in Parliament within one year of the tabling of this report.

Recommendation #2

That membership of the advisory group established under recommendation 1 includes, but not be limited to, mothers, adoptees and members of reunification organizations.

Recommendation #3

That the reparations described in the national apology called for in recommendation 1 include, but not be limited to:

• collaboration between the Government of Canada and its provincial and territorial counterparts to create a fund to support training programs for professional counsellors that is appropriate to the needs of individuals affected by past adoption practices and the provision of counselling services by those professionals to mothers and adoptees affected by forced adoption practices at no cost to them;

• a public awareness campaign that acknowledges and describes the forced adoption practices that were imposed on unmarried mothers in the decades following World War II;

• an online platform for mothers and adoptees to share their personal stories; and,

• a commitment to highlight the issue of access to adoption files by parents and adoptees with provincial and territorial governments.

Recommendation 4

That the Government of Canada, in collaboration with its provincial and territorial counterparts:

• initiate a discussion on the status of provincial legislation governing adoption files, in particular whether parents and adoptees have the right to access those files;

• develop a consensus position on a uniform policy in regard to accessibility of adoption files across Canada that acknowledges a person’s right to know their identity;

• develop and issue a joint statement calling on the religious organizations that ran the maternity homes for unmarried mothers to examine their roles during the post-war years, acknowledge the harm that resulted from their actions and accept responsibility; and,

• work with child welfare organizations in all jurisdictions to examine their roles in the forced adoption practices with a view to issuing apologies at the provincial and territorial level comprised of the five criteria recommended for the national apology.