National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network
January 16, 2017
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario
The National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCWN) is writing this letter to respectfully request that you instruct your officials to “Review our litigation strategy. This should include early decisions to end appeals or positions that are not consistent with our commitments, the Charter or our values” (Mandate letter from the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Canada) as it relates to current and pending 60’s Scoop court cases and begin settling amicably to resolve all issues related to this national tragedy. As representatives for the NISCWN and 60’s Scoop survivors ourselves, we feel it is important to see the current government of Canada’s approach to these legal processes in a more reconciliatory fashion.
The 60’s Scoop refers to the Canadian practice, beginning in the late 1960s and continuing until the early 1980s, when social workers began apprehending unusually high numbers of Indigenous children by removing them from their families, their communities and their culture and fostering or adopting them out usually into non-Indigenous families. Adults now, 60’s Scoop Survivors are seeking restitution and reconciliation through a myriad of Indigenous and non-Indigenous methods. Some are using the courts because their voice and concerns are not being addressed in a respectful manner others are looking for cultural healing methods. Because of these efforts to address this concern, 60’s Scoop survivors, over the past few years, have begun to assemble to create a voice and organizations to be heard and understood.
We are aware of the current case in Ontario and pending court challenges surfacing in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia and Quebec. These cases have created a negative impact on the lives of 60’s Scoop survivors from across Canada, the USA and as far as Europe. Many 60’s Scoop Survivors have been triggered because of these proceedings which has amounted to increased mental health issues and an uptake in personal abuse. The court case in Ontario for example has been going on for the past seven years. Pleads have been made to settle out of court but continue to fall on deaf ears as the Crown continues to fight. This is not consistent with the current government of Canada’s commitments, the Charter or our values.
To 60’s Scoop survivors, those First Nations, Metis and Inuit children who were taken from their connection to their homelands, community and families, the estimated 20,000 children who were forcefully removed from their families, this is about acknowledging and making amends for the grave wrongs to them and their families. Because of these wrongs, many 60’s Scoop survivors suffer from mental heath, chronic ailments, and other socio-economic impediments to their livelihood as result of loosing their connection to their homelands, community and families. It is imperative that all issues related to the 60’s Scoop be addressed in a fashion that acknowledges the mistakes made by the government and ensures all 60’s Scoop survivor can heal and move forward with their lives.
As scooped children, now adults, we are advocates and leaders who want to see a resolve so we can continue healing and moving forward with our lives. We feel that the current approach to this file is not consistent with the Charter or our values.
We again ask respectfully that you instruct your officials to review all current and pending litigation files related to the 60’s Scoop and begin settling them out of court in an expedited and fair manner.
We would be happy to meet to discuss our position in more detail and would be pleased to hear more about what your administration is doing to rectify this wrong of the past.
Thank you for your time,
Colleen Hele, Elaine Kicknosway and Duane Morrisseau-Beck
cc: The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Backgrounder on National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network
The NISWN, was formed in September 2016, as a national voice to (a) Provide a national forum for the members of the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network to express their needs and concerns on behalf of Indigenous people affected by Indigenous Child Removal Systems in Canada; (b) Ensure access to services for Indigenous people affected by Indigenous Child Removal Systems in Canada; and (c) Provide relevant, accurate and up-to-date information to Indigenous people affected by Indigenous Child Removal Systems in Canada. For more information on who we are and what we do, go to www.indigenousadoptee.com.