Dear Chief Day,
Thank you for your recent statement “This decision will now set a precedent for others across the country seeking solace and justice. We know that much more healing needs to take place not only for the survivors, but for their children and grandchildren.” on February 14, 2017 in response to the recent judicial decision on the Ontario class-action lawsuit on behalf of Sixties Scoop adoptees.
The National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (The Network) formerly known as BiGiwen Indigenous Adoptee Gathering, began our work in earnest in 2014 in Ottawa, ON. Led by a few local Sixties Scoop adoptees, our goal was to bring adoptees together to share our stories, validate each other’s experiences, and work towards healing grounded in our Indigenous traditions. Our first gathering was a resounding success as 65 adoptees came together in Ottawa from all over Turtle Island to build capacity, share stories, and begin the long process of healing inter-generational wounds and trauma. In August 2015 we held our 2nd gathering for Sixties Scoop adoptees, foster care survivors, and their families. Our 3rd gathering is planned for fall 2017.
The Network is writing this letter to request a meeting with you in light of the recent judicial decision on the Ontario class-action lawsuit on behalf of Sixties Scoop adoptees. Also, given Minister Bennett’s statement on her willingness to engage in negotiations with adoptees, a meeting would be especially timely. During the meeting we would like to discuss and brief you on our work, how the Sixties Scoop has impacted our lives, the work that needs to be done across Turtle Island for healing and reconciliation, and ways that NGO’s Chiefs, and advisors can provided necessary support and expertise.
The Network is unique, as it’s the only community-based adoptee-led organization working with Sixties Scoop adoptees & foster care survivors. We’re intimately connected to hundreds of adoptees across Canada, the US, and overseas. Urban and rural First Nations, Metis and Inuit adoptees & foster care survivors have reached out to us over the years for support, advocacy, resources and friendship. One common heartbreak and concern we hear from adoptees who’ve been taken away from their communities is that our Chiefs and First Nation communities have not supported our repatriations nor welcomed us back into the circle.
Our central concern in working towards a national resolution to ongoing litigation is that all impacted adoptees and foster care survivors are not just included, but centred and prioritized, in any discussions about their cultural losses and in strategizing ways forward. It’s vital that our voices are heard since it’s the survivors who know the impacts of the Sixties Scoop the best because we speak to it from our lived experiences.
Although the Ontario class-action lawsuit judgement is one small victory, thousands of adoptees and foster care survivors are once again emotionally triggered by these announcements with reverberations being felt across the nation and beyond. One important detail that is not acknowledged in this class action is the thousands of First Nation, Metis and Inuit adoptees solicited and trafficked from other provinces to Ontario where they were adopted and raised in white households. These adoptee survivors do not want to be excluded from conversations about us, and together with the Chiefs of Ontario, the Network wants to ensure that all our voices are represented at the negotiation table, while we continue the critical work of raising awareness about the Sixties Scoop nationally and internationally.
We look forward to hearing from you,
Colleen Hele- Cardinal, Duane Morrisseau-Beck, Elaine Kicknosway
Backgrounder on National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network
The NISCWN, 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.