Sixties Scoop adoptees share emotional stories, seek apology
Some of thousands of aboriginal children adopted into non-native families speak in Winnipeg
Marlene Orgeron still remembers the day she was forced to leave home.
"I remember my uncle crying, I remember him packing a suitcase, and hugging me and kissing me goodbye."
Imagine being ripped away from your home as a child, and forced to live with a family you don't know. It's a reality that happened to thousands of Manitoba First Nations children. And now they're getting their chance to share their stories.
On Monday, Orgeron and 17 others have been invited to a round table hosted by the Manitoba government, to talk about how the so-called Sixties Scoop affected their lives.
At age 3, in 1978, Orgeron and her two brothers were taken away from her uncle's home in Shoal River, Man.
She was being raised by her uncle, after her parents died when she was a baby. Social workers told her uncle he had no right to raise the kids.
Orgeron and her brothers were adopted by a non-Aboriginal family in New Orleans, La.
Ottawa reports about 20,000 Aboriginal children across Canada were removed from their homes in the 1960s, '70s and as late as the 1980s and adopted out to non-Aboriginal families in North America and Europe.
Coleen Rajotte, who was born in Winnipeg but found her birth family in Little Pine First Nation, Sask., was adopted out as a baby and has been advocating for years about this issue.
We were victims of colonization and Canadians need to recognize that this is a part of our history.- Coleen Rajotte
"This has been swept under the rug, that we have been forgotten about, people think we all went home, and everything was peachy keen. In fact, that is not true."
Now she and others who were adopted are demanding an apology.
"We lost our language. We lost our connection to our home communities ... We were victims of colonization and Canadians need to recognize that this is a part of our history," said Rajotte.
The Manitoba government wants to work with the community to create programs on how to help victims.
"The time has come. We've been talking about it for several years. And our leaders of days gone by have identified it to be a priority issue." said Eric Robinson, Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs in Manitoba.
The round table continues tomorrow. The province is hoping this will be the start of further discussions in Manitoba and across Canada.