Indigenous

Sixties Scoop gathering offers adoptees a chance to share

It’s being described as one of the first steps toward healing. People affected by the Sixties Scoop gathered on Wednesday to share — some for the first time — their experience and their ideas on how to recover from it.

Grassroots, survivor-led group helping adoptees unite to find a way to heal

Jeannie Red Eagle and Katherine Legrange, both Sixties Scoop adoptees, are organizing meetings where people to have a chance to learn from each others experiences. (Lenard Monkman/CBC)

It's being described as one of the first steps toward healing.

People affected by the Sixties Scoop gathered on Wednesday to share — some for the first time — their experience and their ideas on how to recover from it.

"We need to hear from survivors on what healing looks like to them," said Jeannie Red Eagle, who organized the gathering at a small church in Winnipeg's North End. Red Eagle, from Rolling River First Nation about 250 kilometres west of Winnipeg, was nine in 1976 when she was adopted out to family in Philadelphia, Pa.

The meeting began with a sharing circle and then, one by one, each of the attendees shared their personal story.

Many talked about the struggles of not knowing their identity, and about being isolated from their families and communities.

Red Eagle says a lot of people who are affected aren't getting enough information about the federal government's recent settlement offer.

"People aren't happy about [the settlement]," Red Eagle said. "It's a bad deal."

"We're looking into the wording and discovering what the settlement is, and how much the lawyers are getting, and it's terrible."

Next steps

As more information becomes available, more survivors will have a need to come forward and share, Red Eagle says.

Katherine Legrange, who helped organize the event, was born in Winnipeg and adopted to a non-Indigenous family in Winnipeg's West End. She still doesn't know who her father is, but knows that he is First Nations.

"All of us didn't get a chance to speak today," Legrange said Wednesday. "It's the first time getting a chance to share, so it was really powerful in that way."

Legrange and Red Eagle are hoping to connect with more adoptees for a meeting they plan to organize in the third week of March.

About the Author

Lenard Monkman is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, Treaty 2 territory. He is the co-founder of Red Rising Magazine and has been an associate producer with the CBC's Indigenous unit for three years. Follow him on Twitter: @Lenardmonkman1