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The Sixties Scoop refers to a period of time in Canada when an unknown number of Indigenous children were taken from their parents and communities by child intervention services and placed with mostly non-Indigenous families.
Many children lost touch with their families, communities, culture and traditional language. This caused lasting negative issues with mental, spiritual, emotional and physical health and well-being. Survivors and their families are still feeling the effects of the Sixties Scoop today.
We worked with the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta (SSISA) to help shape how our government can apologize in a way that is meaningful and promotes healing.
Survivors, their families and community members were invited to be part of this process so we could gain a deeper understanding of how the Sixties Scoop affected people’s lives.
It may be difficult to know if a child who was removed from their home during this time was part of the Sixties Scoop. The engagement sessions were an opportunity for people to learn more about the Sixties Scoop.
Engagement sessions were held in 6 communities in the first quarter of 2018. The focus was to hear from survivors and provide an opportunity to learn more about the Sixties Scoop.
- January 18: Peace River
- February 1: St. Paul
- February 7: Fort McMurray
- February 14: Lethbridge
- February 21: Calgary
- March 1: Edmonton
Sessions began with cultural ceremony, smudge and prayers, followed by opening remarks and a short presentation. Attendees were then invited to participate in sharing circles.
Sharing circles were led by a facilitator to encourage meaningful and respectful conversation around 4 questions:
- How has being a Sixties Scoop survivor impacted you or loved ones?
- What does a meaningful apology look like?
- When someone says, "I'm sorry," what does that mean to you?
- What desires/hopes do you have coming out of an apology?
Large canvases were on site for those who wished to express themselves through art.
The Sixties Scoop is a sensitive subject. Talking about and reliving past experiences and traumas may be an overwhelming and emotional experience. Emotional supports were available at each session.
The online submission period closed March 8, 2018.
Input from the sessions and online submissions were used to inform a meaningful apology from the Government of Alberta to the Sixties Scoop survivors.
The government offered an apology to survivors, their families and communities on May 28, 2018 at the Alberta legislature.
Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta (SSISA) is a non-profit society formed to represent survivors in Alberta, create dialogue and engagement and develop true reconciliation. Board members include representatives from Treaty 6, Treaty 7, Treaty 8, as well as Inuit and Métis representatives.
As survivors themselves, SSISA members are committed to raising awareness and supporting other survivors.
The Government of Alberta and SSISA have been working in collaboration to plan this engagement. They organized the cultural protocol and attended all of the sessions.
The purpose of this engagement was to listen to understand how we can offer a meaningful apology. Healing can only begin when the full impacts of a wrong are fully understood, acknowledged and addressed. For this reason, compensation was not discussed at these sessions.