Saskatoon

FSIN wants adoptions of Sask. First Nations children suspended

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations wants a moratorium on the adoption of all First Nations children in the province.

Call for suspension comes after Sixties Scoop apology

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations wants a moratorium on the adoption of all First Nations children in the province. (Jose Luis Pelaez/Getty Images)

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations wants a moratorium on the adoption of all First Nations children in the province.

On Monday, Premier Scott Moe officially apologized Monday for Saskatchewan's role in the Sixties Scoop. Tens of thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families between the 1960s and 1980s and adoped into mostly white families.

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said the current child welfare system is uncomfortably similar.

"Pretty much, the Sixties Scoop, it's still happening in 2019," said Cameron. "Children are being taken away against the will of their parents and grandparents. It's pretty shameful."

According to the provincial government, 3,197 children were in the care of the Ministry of Social Services as of Sept. 30. 

Cameron said the vast majority of those children are Indigenous and the situation needs to improve.

"We don't need the provincial government to take care of our own children," he said.

"We know what to do. We know how to do it. We have the education, we have the means. we have the knowledge, we have the expertise to do a much better job than the Social Services system is currently doing."

Premier Moe said the province is working with child and family services agencies on roughly 60 First Nations across Saskatchewan to keep children in their homes. When that can't happen, the province tries to place kids in the custody of an extended family member or trusted family member. 

Corey O'Soup, Advocate with Children and Youth for the province said the idea of an adoption moratorium deserves consideration. However, he's concerned both First Nations governments and provincial Social Services aren't prepared for such a move.

"If they're ready, and they have families lined up and these kids aren't going to end up just overpopulating our foster care system or our group homes again, then let's do it," he said.

"But I think those discussions need to be had between our government and our First Nation officials to make sure that we're actually ready for that." 

O'Soup said he would be in favour of stopping the adoptions if First Nations governments were prepared.

"Are we ready for that? Are our First Nations families, communities ready to take on every single adoption in this province?" he asked. "And if the answer is yes, then I would support that. But I don't know if we're there yet to be able to say either way."

The Ministry of Social Services said 51 children were adopted out of its system, and 41 of them were Indigenous. Social services said an Indigenous Child and Family Services agency is always consulted and any adoptive family must go through mandatory training that includes an Indigenous cultural component.

As of September, just over 2,000 children had been placed in the custody of an extended family member or trusted family member by Social Services. 

Meanwhile, Chief Bobby Cameron said he appreciates the province's apology, but believes more must be done.

"The end goal has remained consistent for many, many years," he said. "We're talking about First Nations jurisdiction over our own First Nations child welfare system. Plain and simple. Black and white."

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