Sixties Scoop survivors prepare for apology
- Andrea Ledding | November 28, 2018
Emotions can run high when the word apology is used in the same sentence as government. The Saskatchewan Government has promised an apology regarding Child Welfare and specifically AIM (Adopt an Indian and Métis) / 60s Scoop Survivors for years now; Brad Wall gave his word to then-Métis Nation Saskatchewan President and Scoop Survivor Robert Doucette and it never happened. Premier Scott Moe finally told Doucette, now co-chair of Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Saskatchewan (SSISS), it would happen Spring of 2019, approaching SSISS to facilitate it.
Once they agreed, and created a plan with a long list of locations, they were told they only had six locations and six months to do it all. A month ago, the government said three months for the volunteer group to consult and write a report for an apology of December 2019.
If people can’t attend a consultation, they can email Saskscoop60@gmail.com, or the provincial government gathering website.
“We have been having the sharing circles since October but working for a long time,” said Norine Tourangeau, SSISS board member, noted they worked with the Alberta group as well and learned from one another. “This is our fourth sharing circle, it’s been growing but in our home community and home city it’s been disappointing for me not to see the numbers out...there’s a lack of awareness, amongst our leadership. That’s a big call to action, creating more educational awareness.”
She points out it is a clear violation of rights, both Indigenous and basic human rights. It is also a form of genocide as defined by the United Nations — and still ongoing.
“The government implemented the programs that tore apart families ‘for the best interest of the child’ but were in fact the worst-case scenario as with the stories we’re listening to at these gatherings. They need to take initiative and make amends to all of that.
“We are the legacy of the Residential Schools and that needs to be implemented in the curriculum, to end ignorance and divide. We don’t just get over it, [healing’s] a lifelong process. To heal ourselves, to heal ourselves, and the community.”
In fact, the first 5 Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation report focus on child welfare.
“For me the sharing circles have been a healing journey because both my parents struggled with addictions and parenting issues, so I too grew up in a group home. For a long time, I was angry at my parents and being part of SSISS has given me an understanding of where my parents were and it’s helping me forgive them,” said Shelby La Rose, Youth Rep for the SSISS Board.
Vince Vandale added they need a Family Navigator program because all they have is Legal Aid with so many cases on their hands, families can maybe talk to a lawyer for a few minutes. He added the Family Navigator program could also help families navigate issues with Social Worker involvement. “We don’t just want an apology, we’ve told them that several times,” said Vandale. “The Alberta apology didn’t mean much to me because there was no action. We want some substance behind this, we want something done about the families and the children and youth in care right now.”
86% of kids in care are Indigenous — and they die in care in disproportionate numbers as well.
“If they’re destroying the files as we speak, the evidence of what they have done which includes death, criminal negligence, and sexual assault which has no statutory limitation, and these files are the only way for children to trace their families, their histories, what kind of an apology is going to be meaningful?” asked one 60s scoop survivor and advocate who wishes to remain anonymous. “They need to be accountable, not ‘sorry.’ What does the word even mean if they’re still getting away with murder?”
After the weekend, one intergenerational survivor who did not even participate sums it up thusly.
“Being sorry and saying sorry are two different things. If you’re truly sorry, give us back what you were actually really after all along. Our land, and our resources. Because you can never give back what you’ve taken from our lives.”