The term Sixties (60’s) Scoop was coined by Patrick Johnston in his 1983 report Native Children and the Child Welfare System. It refers to the Canadian practice, beginning in the 1960s and continuing until the late 1980s, of apprehending unusually high numbers of children of Aboriginal peoples in Canada and fostering or adopting them out, usually into non aboriginal families[i]
Up to 20,000 First Nation and Métis children from the late 1950’s up to the 1980’s have been impacted by the colonial child welfare policy where thousands were forcibly and illegally taken from their ancestral territories and scattered throughout Canada, the United States and Europe in non-Indigenous households.
Like many survivors in the Indian Residential School System, many adoptees and foster care survivors endured tremendous violence, abuse and racism in their households as they share a common experience of loss of language, ceremony, familiarity of extended family, and connection to their identity through the land.
Stories of unsuccessful efforts to reintegrate adoptees back into their extended families and territories have led many feeling like they didn’t fit in anywhere.
While not all experienced these types of trauma, many have formed a strong sense of character, duel identities and cultural navigation skills.
The Indigenous Adoptee Gathering Committee was formed as a result of a roundtable hosted in 2013 by Manitoba’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Eric Robinson. The roundtable brought together 18 Indigenous adoptees and their families to Winnipeg to share and discuss the effects of child welfare policies that resulted in many Indigenous children being taken away illegally from their families in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. As a result of that meeting, Manitoba adoptees are in the process of forming a provincial body to provide information and services to adoptees returning back to the indigenous lands and communities. In addition, in early 2014 Canada’s aboriginal affairs ministers asked the country’s premiers to look at compensation and counselling for Indigenous children adopted into white families.
Headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, the Indigenous Adoptee Gathering Committee is a local group of Indigenous adoptee and foster care survivors that recognized the need to create a forum for survivors, at a national level, to express their stories and to learn from other survivors strategies as a result of their illegal removal and displacement across Canada, the US and Europe. The complexity of these losses as a result of being removed for their respective nations has created a gap in the everyday lives of survivors. The committee expects that the gathering will act as the basis for the birth of a national organization for survivors with a broad mandate to meet the needs of survivors and their families.
The event is the first nation-wide event ever to be held in Canada. Approximately 80 participants and volunteers and an array of volunteers will be involved over the two day event and will mark a turning point in the lives and direction of Indigenous adoptees and foster care survivors.