Scoop of the Sixties Victims Win Day in Court

By Frank Larue

When the dark era of the residential school came to an end in the early sixties, a new plan was developed by Ottawa: The Scoop of the Sixties. This placed aboriginal children in white foster homes across Canada and the United States. The children were cut off from their own parents, culture, traditions, relatives, and family history.

Sixties Scoop gathering

A woman is comforted at a Sixties Scoop gathering before a provincial apology was delivered in Winnipeg from Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger in June 2015. Photo Credit: John Woods / The Canadian Press)

In 1982, Judge Edwin C. Kimelman wrote a report on the negative repercussions of the Scoop of the Sixties. “The goal of child welfare should be to strengthen family ties, not to sever them. With the closing of residential schools, rather than providing the resources on reserve to build economic security and providing services to support responsible parenting, society found it easier and cheaper to remove the children from their homes and apparently fill the market demand for children in Canada and the U.S.”

Cultural genocide was used to describe the residential school system, and it applies also for the Scoop of the Sixties. Kimelman compares both systems and the damage done, saying: “When the indian residential schools were operating, children were forcibly removed from their homes for the duration of the academic year. But at least under that system, the children knew who their parents were, and they returned home for the summer months.”

The Scoop was total separation. Foster parents brought up these children as white kids. Ironically, the society into which aboriginal children were being inducted would never let these children forget they were aboriginal.

The children taken from their homes during the Sixties Scoop grew up totally separated from their families and communities, with little or no understanding of their own culture, and no grasp of their own identity. In their new environments, they were often discriminated against because of their race. By the time they reached their mid-teens, the vast majority were running away repeatedly from the security of their white homes in search of their real homes and parents. Most never found their real parents, abusing drugs and alcohol, or turning to crime as a result of identity crises.

Five billion was given to residential school victims, but not a penny was given to the victims of the Scoop of the Sixties. Fortunately, that is about to change because of a class action against the government on behalf of the Ontario victims. Justice Edward P. Belobaba told the court that the province of Ontario failed to “… prevent on-reserve indian children in Ontario, who were placed in the care of non-aboriginal foster or adoptive parents, from losing their aboriginal identity.” The federal government will now have to compensate the victims who are asking $1.3 billion for the 16,000 scoop victims.

This is only the beginning. There are two class actions coming up in Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC are expecting to follow suit which means the federal government will finally have to come up with a large payout. The federal government have avoided helping the Scoop victims for years. In fact, they have tried eight times to stop the trial, and now Carolyn Bennett – minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development – has agreed to abide by the court’s decision. She hasn’t made any apologies for attempting to prevent the Scoop victims from receiving any compensation. Considering Prime Minister Trudeau’s promises of rectifying mistreatment of First Nations, this is yet another example of his hollow promises and no action, which seems to be the modus operandi of the Liberal government.