The Sixties Scoop

Imagine a child taken away not just from her family but from her culture and raised in a family that may or may not treat her well. She might feel a little lost. That was the experience of up to 20,000 indigenous children between the mid 1960s and 80s. It was called the Sixties Scoop and it's the story on this edition of Rewind.
      1 of 0
      Listen to the full episode54:59

      "The children's hearts are hurt. They'll never forget what the social welfare system has done to them."

      During the 1950's and 1960's, the Canadian government started phasing out Residential Schools for indigenous children. As a result, there was a large number of indigenous children in the care of social services. Social workers worried that their home reserves couldn't take care of them properly. So they came up with a plan to ask white families to foster or adopt them. One program was the Adopt Indian Metis Program, or AIM. Many indigenous children ended up losing touch with their birth families and their identity.

      In 1983, Patrick Johnson wrote a report called Native Children and the Child Welfare System, and first used the term Sixties Scoop. He recognized that uprooting mass numbers of young indigenous children from their families took a damaging toll not only on them but on their culture. The report helped change the practice but for the children, many of them adults by then, the damage was done.  

      Poet and broadcaster Rosanna Deerchild and her mother Edna Ferguson. Together, they wrote a book of poetry about her mothers residential school experience. (Saffron Allen Scott)

      Over its many years, CBC Radio aired several programs to address indigenous issues. Shows like Indian Talk and The Way of the Indian were occasional features. By 1965, Indian Magazine was born. It grew up alongside a resurgent indigenous rights movement throughout North America and the show became a provocative, political and all indigenous. In 1970 it changed its name to Our Native Land and aired on CBC Radio until 1985. Unreserved, hosted by Rosanna Deerchildis CBC Radio's weekly space for Indigenous community, culture and conversation. Last year Marcel Balfour, a former Chief of Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, told his story of being a Sixties Scoop survivor. Rosanna also talked about fostering her two nieces.  

      In June 2015, the province of Manitoba issued an apology for the Sixties Scoop and announced that in future, children would learn about the scoop in school. Last August, a group of adults who were scooped launched a class action lawsuit, arguing the federal government failed to protect them and their culture. 

      To look at all CBC Radio's stories about indigenous issues, check out their page.