Manitoba

Sixties Scoop survivors draw attention to a dark era

Survivors of the Sixties Scoop marched through Winnipeg's downtown, drawing attention to a dark era in Canada's history.
As marchers passed through the Portage and Main intersection, participants performed a round dance. 0:58

Survivors of the Sixties Scoop marched through Winnipeg's downtown, drawing attention to a dark era in Canada's history.

"I love that we're all coming together now because there's strength in numbers and there's nothing better than to speak with someone who's had the same experience," said Sharon Gmitroski, who was taken from her home in Norway House in 1968, when she was just 1½ years old.

Similar walks have taken place in other provinces to shine more light on the Scoop, as it is called — an era from the 1960s to the 1980s, when child welfare authorities scooped up Indigenous children and adopted them out to non-Indigenous families.

Those placed in homes outside the country weren't just adopted out of their Indigenous homes and into mostly white American families — they were bought and paid for.

Winnipeg's march, which included some survivors as well as supporters, began at 10 a.m. at Thunderbird House. It passed through the city's famous Portage and Main intersection, where participants performed a round dance, before winding up at the Manitoba legislative building. 

Sixties Scoop marchers carry signs calling for compensation and support from the government. (Meagan Fiddler/CBC)
Sharon Gmitroski was taken from her home in Norway House in 1968, when she was just 1½ years old. (Meagan Fiddler/CBC)

Survivors are now seeking compensation, awareness, education and resources to help them heal. Troniak Law Firm in Winnipeg filed a claim this past spring but many fear any resolution will be a long time coming.

"It's time that we're being heard, that we are acknowledged, " said Carla Williams, another marcher taking part in Friday's event in Winnipeg. "We are suing the federal government ... We do want compensation."

Sixties Scoop survivors will be potentially eligible for up to $50,000 for each claimant. (Meagan Fiddler/CBC)

She was adopted to a family in the Netherlands in 1972, when she was eight years old, but she doesn't use the word adoption to describe it.

"We were stolen," she said.

Survivors of the Sixties Scoop marched through Winnipeg's downtown, drawing attention to a dark era in Canada's history. 2:19