Lack of Manitoba representation on Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation "problematic": Advocate

·3 min read

A lack of representation from Manitoba on the new Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation is being called "problematic" by a local advocate.

Last Thursday, a virtual event was held to launch the Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation, comprising of a 10-member board aimed to provide support and advocate for thousands of Indigenous people who were removed from their families and communities.

While this launch marks a milestone for the survivors of the notorious '60s Scoop, it is unfortunate that there are no representatives from Manitoba.

“The 60s Scoop Legacy of Canada is pleased that there has been a board chosen for the new healing foundation that has been announced,” said Katherine Legrange, Director of 60s Scoop Legacy of Canada on Monday.

“However, it was noted that there are no representatives from Manitoba, Yukon and the Atlantic provinces. I think that is problematic given that many of us Sixties Scoop survivors came from the Prairies.”

In the 1960s, the Adopt Indian Metis program saw many Indigenous children, including those born in Manitoba, being moved to non-Indigenous families.

“I think it is important to have representation in the regions where there are a high number of us being taken,” said Legrange.

The Sixties Scoop refers to an era when by over 20,000 Indigenous children were removed from their birth families and communities to be fostered out to, or adopted into predominantly non-Indigenous families across North America.

As a result, many were not able to even meet their families and have also lost their cultural identities because of having been removed from their homes during the 1950s until the 1980s.

After a decade of struggle, survivors successfully took legal action against the Government of Canada for their loss of heritage, culture and family ties.

The federal government agreed to pay $800 million in 2017, with $50 million going to the establishment of the Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation.

In 2015, then-Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger apologized on behalf of the province for the role it played during the Sixties Scoop.

In an email, the Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation Board of Directors noted that as the newly appointed Board Members, they are committed to listening to the voices and working on behalf of Survivors in every part of Canada.

“We understand that the selection criteria for this board were based on a number of important considerations, rooted in the feedback by Survivors through a national engagement process,” said the board.

“Our members, the vast majority of whom are Sixties Scoop Survivors, reflect a diversity of geographies, languages, cultures, identities, and experiences. Our intention is to bring compassion, integrity, and inclusiveness to all of the Foundation’s activities, and we will look forward to working with Survivors and their communities in every Province and Territory.”

The 10 Board of Directors are Cheryl Swidrovich, Danelle St. Laurent, Eric Phillips, Gary McDermott, Halie Bruce, Selina Legge, Wayne Garnons-Williams, Vicky Boldo, Anna Watts, and Justice Harry LaForme.

According to the Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation website, “the recruitment process ran in an open, inclusive and manner,” ensuring that candidates came from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun