60's Scoop topic of forum in Saskatoon Friday evening
Redress sought for mass adoption of aboriginal children into non-aboriginal families
It's called the 60's Scoop — the widespread adoption of aboriginal children into non-aboriginal families.
Friday evening it was the topic of a forum in Saskatoon.
Organizers said they want to raise awareness about another chapter in the history of assimilation. Some go so far as to call it cultural genocide.
"We've been trying to organize and get our voices heard for a long time, probably going on at least 20 years because as we all became aware of what had happened, that we weren't isolated incidents, we started to connect with each other," Raven Sinclair said in an interview.
The main speaker at the event, Sinclair is both an adoptee and a social work professor who has researched and written on the topic extensively.
There is something fundamentally wrong here- Raven Sinclair, Adoptee and Professor
From the 1960's to the mid-1980's thousands of First Nations children in Canada were apprehended by social welfare authorities, and placed in foster homes or adopted out.
Sinclair said some cases were poorly documented, some papers were even forged.
The result was a disproportionate number of First Nations children in the child welfare system. By 1994 in Saskatchewan, eight per cent of children in the province were First Nations, but 75 per cent of the children in care were First Nations.
"There is something fundamentally wrong here," Sinclair told the gathering of about 60 people.
The adoptions were often disastrous, involving abuse and loss of language and culture.
Sister and brother pair sent to U.S.
Victoria Hutto and her younger brother were taken from their family in La Ronge, their grandmother told they needed medical attention so she would sign for their adoption, she told the crowd.
After four years in foster care, they were adopted out to a couple in Norfolk, Virginia. She was 12, her brother 10.
"I didn't really know how to fit in," Hutto said.
She said her adoptive father, who served in the U.S. Navy, was away a lot. And her adoptive mother was "hateful toward us".
At the age of 14, Hutto (born Rose Edna Natomagan) ran away, married and had a family of her own. She returned to Canada about 11 years ago to be closer to her biological family, and has three grandchildren she has never met.
Meanwhile, she said her brother became homeless and addicted. He was fatally stabbed during a fight. Hutto did not have enough money to go to his funeral.
The organizer of the forum, Lynn Thompson, said she is simply hoping for public support and acknowledgement for victims of the 60's Scoop.
She runs a support group that meets twice a month in Saskatoon.
Thompson is also part of a class action lawsuit filed of their behalf by the Merchant Law Group.