Voices From Here

In 1951, an amendment to the Indian Act gave provinces responsibility for the welfare of First Nations children. Provincial child welfare services sent social workers to remove Indigenous children from their families and communities instead of creating support systems because reserve communities were subject to the Indian Act , and the federal government was responsible for providing and funding such support systems. Residential schools were supposed to take care of children 6 and older, so children “scooped” were often younger than 5. This period, which lasted until the mid-1980s, came to be known as the Sixties Scoop. More than 20,000 children were “scooped” and placed in primarily non-Indigenous homes as adoptees or foster children. Some children were placed in safe but culturally foreign environments, while others were subjected to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Birth families had to navigate the Canadian legal system, fill out paperwork, and attend court hearings and appeals if they wanted to regain custody of their children. Many still do so today. Indigenous communities resisted the practice through advocacy, court hearings, and the creation of community-based child well-being agencies. Indigenous groups have worked for adoption reform and achieved THE SIXTIES SCOOP FIRST NATIONS CHILD WELFARE IN CANADA policy changes that give priority to extended family members. However, widespread child removal continues today through foster care and group homes in what has been dubbed the “Millennium Scoop.” More than 20,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children were removed from their homes and placed in primarily non- Indigenous households between the late 1950s and 1990. Many children were sent abroad. In 2017, the federal government announced a $750 million settlement with Sixties Scoop survivors who are Status holders or Inuit. The settlement does not provide compensation for non-Status First Nations and Métis people. Another $50 million was committed to establish a foundation to support healing, wellness, education, language, culture, and commemoration for Indigenous people across Canada. As of 2021, the provinces of Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan have apologized to Survivors. Intergenerational trauma occurs when the effects of trauma are not resolved in one generation and the trauma is passed down to subsequent generations. The painful effects of colonial schooling and child welfare policies are not just felt by Survivors; children, grandchildren, and surrounding communities feel them as well. When talking about intergenerational trauma, it is important to address intergenerational resilience: the capacity of individuals and communities to adapt to disruptions and adversity, absorb change, and persevere. For more information, watch this video on intergenerational trauma. INTERGENERATIONAL TRAUMA ILLUSTRATION BY NATASHA DONOVAN. STILL FROM ADAM NORTH PEIGAN VIDEO (HISTORICA CANADA). ILLUSTRATION BY NATASHA DONOVAN. STILL FROM ADAM NORTH PEIGAN VIDEO (HISTORICA CANADA). SECTION 2 10