An exhibition to educate the West about the Sixties Scoop

Disclaimer: This report contains details of trauma.

This roundup, conducted by the federal government between 1965 and 1984, uprooted thousands of children in Canada. They lost their families, their languages ​​and their cultures, being sent elsewhere in the country, and sometimes even to the United States and Europe.

To educate Canadians about this dark part of history, the grouping Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta held an exhibit at the Vancouver Public Library this weekend. This is the final leg of the regroup in British Columbia, after stops including Cranbrook, Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna and Victoria.

A lot of people don’t even know the 60s Scoop is heresays Lorraine Champagne, secretary of the organization. We open people’s eyes to what happened […] we have already traveled Alberta twice and Saskatchewan also last year, this was the turn of British Columbiashe says.

Lorraine Champagne was taken from her family in Peace River, Alberta when she was three or four years old. She has never seen her mother since. When I was brought to a white house, I always knew I was native. It’s like I’ve never really been accepted by white peopleshe explains.

When you grow up in a white house, you’re what they call a “red apple on the outside, white on the inside.” You are not accepted among your own people. You walk with one foot in each world and you feel so alone. »

A quote from Sixties Scoop Survivor Lorraine Champagne

The result of the residential school system

Indian residential schools are a reality that everyone knows about now. But Canadians need to understand that there is something else that has happened that has continued the colonization and genocide of our people.says Adam North Peigan, a native of the Piikani First Nation in Alberta and a member of the organization’s steering committee.

Everyone who was sent to Indian residential schools was broken. They didn’t know any family cohesion, they were brought up in these schools and they didn’t really know how to take care of children. We are the resultsays Lorraine Champagne.

Margaret Gisle was able to get compensation from the federal government for being torn from her family, but not her twin sister.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Chloé Dioré de Périgny

Margaret Gisle was adopted at the age of three and a half with her twin sister. They left Prince Rupert for Powell River, British Columbia, with a Norwegian family. She says her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were sent to residential schools for Indians and their trauma was passed on to their children.

From my birth to my three-four years, I suffered from malnutrition, sexual abuse, starvation, I had a broken collarbone, crushed feet, a fractured skull. It was horribleshe says in tears, decades later.

It was really a traumatic experience because when I was adopted the ministry told me that my parents were married and that I had never been abused by my father and uncles and that I didn’t have any siblings. But I remembershe says.

The ministry said it was my imagination. I had insomnia because I had nightmares, I saw myself being abused and seeing my younger brother die of hypothermia. »

A quote from Sixties Scoop Survivor Margaret Gisle

If, when she was younger, Margaret Gisle wanted to deny her identity because of this traumatic past, she explains that her culture is now part of her healing process. “When I hear the drums, I hear a beating heart. When I hear the songs, I hear my ancestors. There is no other culture that can replace it for me”.

A lingering trauma

In Canada, according to the 2016 Census, more than half of foster children are Indigenous. Yet they represent only 7.7% of the child population in the country, according to federal government data. For Lorraine Champagne, this is a sign that the consequences of this system are still visible today.

In 2018, an $875 million agreement in principle was reached with the federal government to compensate the victims of this roundup and settle lawsuits brought by survivors.

For Margaret Gisle, the claims process has been difficult. She would have liked the federal government, which she says holds the records of these roundups, to make it easier for the survivors, rather than making them dwell on these traumatic memories.

Sixties Scoop survivor Adam North Peigan calls on the BC government to apologize to the children taken from their families in the province during this dark time.

Photo: Chloé Dioré de Périgny

The governments of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta have already issued official apologies to the children who lived through the Sixties Scoop, says Adam North Peigan.

He is now calling on British Columbia Premier John Horgan to do the same for to create a movement of reconciliation throughout the West.

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