Supporters of ’60s Scoop survivors rally ahead of class action suit appeal

Carrying signs that read “Supporting survivors of the 60’s scoop” and “Stolen children, stolen identities”, several First Nations people rallied in Toronto to raise awareness of what’s come to be known as the ’60s Scoop.

The rally came a day before a scheduled Oct. 28 court appeal of the certification of a class action lawsuit stemming from the ’60s Scoop.

“Children’s Aid Society workers, who were 24- or 25-year-old white women fresh out of university with very little or perhaps even no knowledge on the native culture, going on to reservations and scooping children,” Chris Carter said at the Oct. 27 rally. “Then they took the children into white homes where they were cut off from their language, their culture and their heritage.”

The term ’60s Scoop, or Sixties Scoop, was used by Patrick Johnston in his 1983 publication titled Native Children and the Child Welfare System.

Johnston “presented documentary evidence that First Nations people had good grounds for protesting against the massive involvement of child welfare agencies in removing children from their families and communities,” wrote the authors of the1996 Royal Commission Report on Aboriginal Peoples.

“In the ’60s the federal government had jurisdiction over native child protection,” Carter said. “But without amending any of the treaties or any of the agreements that they had with the native [peoples], they went ahead and handed over jurisdiction to the provinces and, here in Ontario, the children’s aid societies.”

The ’60s Scoop “was a tragic and unfortunate occurrence that happened in Canadian history”,  said Rob Thompson, communications director for the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto.

“It’s important for all of us to make things better for those people who were affected by the ’60s Scoop,” he said. “Anyone involved in it I think had the right to ask questions of their government as to why it happened and seek explanations.

“I think it’s something that all of society should be ashamed of and try to work toward a resolution.”

More light needs to be shed on the issue, said 29-year-old Sayen Ross.

“We want a public inquiry,” he said at the Oct. 27 rally. “We’re pushing primarily for increased accountability and transparency in the child protection system.

“One of the grievances that is held is that the churches have apologized and paid compensation, the federal government has apologized but the Children’s Aid Society has been absolutely silent on the issue,” Ross said.