Sixties Scoop adoptees come together for Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival

Sixties Scoop adoptees took part in a day of healing as part of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival.

'It's a dark part of history, people need to recognize this,' says Colleen Rajotte, WAFF director

Colleen Rajotte was one of thousands of aboriginal kids to be taken from their parents at birth and adopted out to mostly white families during the Sixties Scoop. (CBC)

Sixties Scoop adoptees took part in a day of healing as part of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival (WAFF).

From the '60s to the '80s, an estimated 20,000 Inuit, Metis and First Nations children were taken from their parents and placed with mostly white families as part of the Sixties Scoop.

"This is not a well-known fact. We're really looking for the same recognition that residential school survivors have," said Colleen Rajotte, the director of the festival.

"We as adoptees were sent out around the world and we never saw another brown face until we made it back home and saw our families."

Adoptees of the Scoop gathered at Thunderbird House Saturday. They participated in a sharing circle, panel discussion and watched two films about adoption and children in care.

The first film the group watched was called Miranda's Story. The film was made by inner-city youth and chronicles a woman who has her kids taken away and adopted out to another family.

Showing that movie was meant to spark a discussion about issues currently facing the child-welfare system in Canada, Rajotte said.

Confronting the Past

The second movie, based on a true story produced by Rajotte, was called Confronting the Past.

"It's about three siblings from northern Manitoba. Their parents were killed in a car crash and they were sent all the way to New Orleans to a horribly abusive home," said Rajotte. "Two of them made it back, but their brother is still in a Louisiana prison."

In making the film, Rajotte went to the southern U.S. to visit and interview the brother, named Eric Orgeron, in prison.

"It really makes a point that so many of our kids have been forgotten about. We're all getting older and we really need to deal with this," she said.

"Today we're really focused on, 'How can we move forward?'" she said. "We need counselling, we need support, we need understanding and we need recognition."

Rajotte said there are still people out there that were adopted out and need help getting in touch with their roots and culture.

"It's a dark part of history, people need to recognize this," she said.

The Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Fest continues this weekend. Saturday night screenings at the Bandwidth Theater start at 7:30 p.m.


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