Sixties Scoop Wraps up in BC

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Métis Nation Completes Series of Engagement Sessions after Hearing from Sixties Scoop Survivors in British Columbia

April 29, 2019, Richmond, British Columbia - The Métis National Council wrapped up the last in a series of six engagement sessions across the Métis Homeland that invited Métis survivors of the Sixties Scoop, and their families, to tell their personal stories of being taken from their mothers. The Sixties Scoop was a part policy of provincial governments and social welfare programs across Canada that targeted Métis children for foster care and adoption services between 1951 and 1991. Churches and church-run hospitals were also identified as staging areas for “scooping” Métis children.

Following a National Sixties Scoop Symposium in October 2018, a series of regional engagement sessions began on March 15, 2019, in Swan River, Manitoba followed by sessions in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Toronto and Richmond. The final engagement session was hosted by the Métis Nation British Columbia who supported over 70 Métis in attendance that included Sixties Scoop survivors, their family members, and support staff from the Métis Nation British Columbia and the Métis National Council. 

Although the struggles of individual stories are unique, the pattern of being ’scooped’ is universal with loss of identity, lack of connection to family and culture, abuse, and a lifetime of dysfunction, all common affects experienced by Métis who were separated from their family.  Some Sixties Scoop survivors at the Richmond session met members of their family for the first time, making a reunion possible after a lifetime of searching for each other.  

On day one of the Richmond engagement session, Shannon Marks gave the keynote address.  A Sixties Scoop survivor, Shannon shared with others the systemic abuse her family suffered at the hands of the British Columbia Child Welfare system.  Shannon and her sister were kept apart from their mother at the same time they were all searching for each other. Her mother, at Shannon’s side throughout the day, spent her adult life, two years after losing her children, looking for her two girls but was denied access to vital information and was refused support from the government only to be turned away and told her children were in better care.  She would find out later that Shannon had her name changed at the age of seven and then legally changed at the age of 10 which made it even more difficult for her to find Shannon and her sister.  She would also learn that Shannon was abused in her second foster home. 

At the engagement session, and referenced throughout all six across the country, survivors told of separations that led to personal struggles over a lifetime. Some survivors came forward and told their stories for the first time, living lives as best as possible as functioning adults but carrying enormous trauma only released through these sessions.  It is a first step of healing for many people and families.

As part of five pillars of reconciliation, reclamation of land, culture and kinship were major themes heard from Métis survivors.  The five specific pillars are reparations; apologies from provincial and federal governments; commemorations that include remembrance and education; accountability that involves acknowledgement and transparency of mistakes made by policy makers, government officials and law enforcement; and healing of survivors. 

Information collected from survivors from the engagement sessions will provide key input and recommendations to the Métis Nation in its efforts to reconcile the injustices suffered by Métis due to the Sixties Scoop. This reconciliation process for Métis Sixties Scoop survivors is independent and separate from any class action litigation claim.

As part of the next steps for all survivors who participated and those yet to be engaged, the Métis Nation will work to ensure survivors have supports as their healing journey continues.  The MNC will also continue communications with survivors through a designated Sixties Scoop portal at https://www.sixties.scoop.metisportals.ca/

A final report, “What we Heard’, will be made available in the coming weeks.

We encourage survivors to utilize the counselling services offered to them.  For those survivors who have shared their stories and are experiencing depression and or anxiety, for immediate telephone support or to book an in-person counselling session, please call 1-833-638-4720.   Please reference ‘1960’ to access services related to the Métis Nation Sixties Scoop.

Newslink: https://www.sixties.scoop.metisportals.ca/statement

Print News Release.PDF

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For more information:

Tracey Thornhill
Manager of Communications & Special Events
Métis Nation BC
604-557-5851 Ext. 8215

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Kelly Patrick
Media Relations
Métis Nation Sixties Scoop
(416) 262-4981