On the eve of National Aboriginal Day, NDP Leader Cam Broten said it’s time for the Government of Saskatchewan to formally apologize for the province’s role in Canada’s Adopt Indian Métis program, also known as the '60s Scoop.
The program took First Nations and Métis children from their parents without consent and placed them in non-Aboriginal households. Parents were typically not told where their children were. Saskatchewan formally participated in the program from 1966 to 1975.
“It's important to recognize the harm that this practice caused and continues to cause,” said Broten. “Ripping families apart has long-lasting effects, not only for individuals and families, but also for communities, our society and our economy. We cannot reasonably expect individuals, families and communities to heal until we acknowledge and address the root causes of trauma, like the residential schools and the '60s Scoop.”
On Thursday, the Government of Manitoba formally apologized for its role in the program. Broten wants the Government of Saskatchewan to do so as well.
“The healing process begins with a meaningful apology, and with concrete actions behind the words. A common sense place to start is making birth records easily accessible to stolen children and their birth families so they can reconnect, and making counseling available to those affected.”
Broten also urged the provincial government to host a roundtable with '60s Scoop survivors to hear their stories and develop an action plan to move toward healing and reconciliation.
“I want to build the strongest Saskatchewan we can. The choice to be our strongest – socially and economically – begins with the choice to extend opportunity to more and more people. The repercussions of the '60s Scoop are a barrier to a better life for many in our province. It’s time to start tearing down that barrier.”
Across Canada, the number of children taken from their parents as part of the '60s Scoop is estimated to exceed 20,000.