Tag Archives: 60’s Scoop

Monica Wysotski

Monica Wysotski a Mohawk from Akwesasne introduces the 60’s scoop, in the wake of residential schools. Asking to meet with other First Nations people in Canada who share a similar experience with being taken from their homeland and raised in another culture and another identity. She would like to document on film with willing participants what the 60’s scoop share in common with the abuses and harms of residential schools and create a forum for healing.

The Sixties Scoop

Government policies behind the sixties scoop

The Sixties Scoop

Hidden Colonial Legacy: The 60’s Scoop

It’s estimated that up to 18,000 thousand First Nation, Inuit and Metis children were adopted or fostered to non-native homes from the 1960’s to the early 1980s. This came to be known as the 60’s scoop. Coleen Rajotte reports from Winnipeg about a Cree man returning home to Manitoba after 39 years away, and a young boy who benefited from new strategies in adoption to ensure that Aboriginal kids stay within their communities.


Legal setback for Ontario aboriginals taken from their families during the “Sixties Scoop”

About the Filmmaker

Coleen Rajotte is a Cree filmmaker and screenwriter based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was a television reporter for CBC TV for a decade and is now an independent filmmaker. She is a producer for episode 1 Indigenous in the City in our series 8th Fire. Read more


Did you know

I borrowed this from someone I know. I thought it would be good to share with you. Gives you something to think about when your alone.

Did you know the people that are usually the strongest are usually the most sensitive?

Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated?

Did you know the one who takes care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it most?

Did you know the 3 hardest things to say are I love you, I’m sorry, and help me.

The Lost Generation

Excerpts from :

The Lost Generation First Nations Communities &  White Middle-Class Adoption by

Debra Henry & Liz Lévesque

The Sixties Scoop-Province of Manitoba


In March of 1982, a Manitoba family court judge named Edwin Kimelman  held hearings across Manitoba about the phenomenon of white adoption of Native children from the province. After the hearings concluded, Judge Kimelman made this statement:

“When the Indian residential schools were operating, children were

forcibly removed from their homes for the duration of the

academic year. The children were punished if they used their own

language, sang their own songs or told their own stories. But  at

least under that system the children knew who their parents were

and they returned home for the summer months. With the closing

of the residential schools, rather than providing the resources on

reserves 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 Eastern Canada and the U.S”11

Kimelman agreed with Native leaders in Manitoba that  aboriginal children were the victims of a policy of “wholesale exportation” to other provinces and the U.S. Judge Kimelman reviewed ninety-three cases of adoption and found that no attempt had been made to find Native homes for these aboriginal children. Over a period of twenty years (mid-1960s to early 80s), Manitoba lost about three thousand Native children to white adoption.

The Canadian Council on Social Development in the 1980s concluded that the staff of child welfare agencies tended to be white middle-class people who assumed that low-income Native parents could only provide a less than adequate home for their children. Basically, in the eyes of the child welfare system, the sin of the Native home was poverty.

Stories of Repatriation


Lisa’s Story

Lisa is the daughter of a Métis family that lives in the town of Camperville in northwestern Manitoba. She was born in the town of Winnipegosis and lived with her Métis parents until she was three and a half. She was removed from their home because they were heavy drinkers. No attempt was made to place her with other Métis relatives or within that same Métis community. Instead she was adopted out to a white middle-class couple in Montreal. Her adopted father started to sexually abuse her at the age of eleven. That same year the family moved with Lisa to the U.S. She was removed from the house and put into a series of foster homes after the abuse was reported. By the time she was fifteen she was working as a prostitute, had suffered every kind of STD imaginable, had an alcohol problem and a series of psychological and emotional problems for which she was under a doctor’s care. She was reunited with her family in April of 1985 at the age of sixteen. The reunion with her Métis family was one of “trying to recapture the lost years.” Lisa is still angry at the child welfare officials in Manitoba who “ruined my life and childhood.”*



Cameron’s Story

Cameron was born on the Sioux Valley Indian reserve in southwestern Manitoba. He was removed from his home at the age of eight because his parents were heavy drinkers. At age eleven, the Children’s Aid Society of Western Manitoba sent Cameron to live with a bachelor businessman in Wichita, Kansas (U.S.). Within six months he was running away from this home. A year and a half later the single man adopted Cameron after the Aid Society insisted that there were no local foster homes or adoptive parents. It is unknown whether or how hard the Aid Society looked  for local reserve homes. The adoption was a disaster. Cameron continued to run away from this home. At age thirteen he revealed that this man had been sexually abusing him. He would not testify against his adoptive father in court because this man had threatened him with physical violence. Cameron stayed in this home five more years after he had revealed the sexual abuse. At the age of eighteen he left the home but still remained in the city of Wichita. After he turned nineteen, he went on a drinking binge, broke into the home of his adoptive father and beat him to death with a baseball bat. Ironically, he served a fifteen year sentence for this murder in Stoney Mountain Penitentiary north of Winnipeg. His whereabouts today are unknown, but it is assumed that he has returned to the Sioux Valley reserve to try and pick up the pieces of his life.*

*These stories are found in The Dispossessed  by Geoffrey York.

Lisa and Cameron’s stories are only a few of the thousands of stories that have yet to be written and published. There are many more adopted children out there with similar stories. We cannot say that all of these adoptions turned out the way that Lisa and Cameron’s did. What we can say  is that these stories let the wider North American population know that there are Aboriginal individuals and communities that have been consistently victimized in this way with dehumanizing consequences that include: culture shock, identity crisis, psychiatric problems, prolonged grief, drug and alcohol problems, uncontrollable anger/rage and a myriad of other symptoms resulting from sexual and other kinds of abuse.

Anglo-American Worldview

  • our way is the best way
  • the world and various forces (illness/death) can be controlled by human beings
  • basic problem is ignorance and the solution is more information (education)
  • technology/technique is moving us toward perfection**
  • our faith in human ability to correct and control is virtually boundless
  • history is evolutionary. We are in a steady movement from inferior societies to our own
  • change is better than stability, conquest is better than holding a position, and the new is better than consolidating the old
  • our “superior” way of life will be the ascendant way for others
  • the good of the individual is more important than the good of the group
  • success (material/numerical, etc.) is the goal and failure must be avoided at all costs
  • scientists are our new priests and prophets. Science is our true religion. That means that scientific education is the great hope for our nation and the world12

Native Worldview

  • group has supremacy over the individual; values are learned collectively
  • harmony of individual with the tribe
  • harmony with the tribe and the land

harmony with the land and the Great Spirit (monotheism


The Kimelman Report. Quotes

In the early 1980s, following the notorious Sixties Scoop,[1] in which many children were removed from aboriginal families for adoption by non-aboriginal parents, the Manitoba government established a Review Committee on Indian and Métis Adoptions and Placements. Judge Edwin C. Kimelman chaired the Committee. In 1984, “After reviewing the file of every Native child who had been adopted by an out-of-province family in 1981, Judge Kimelman stated: ‘having now completed the review of the files… the Chairman now states unequivocally that cultural genocide has been taking place in a systematic, routine manner’.”[2]


1984 File Review Report of the committee in 1981 over 53% of the children placed outside of the Province of Manitoba were sent to the United States and over 86% of the children placed in care of adopted families and foster homes outside of Manitoba  were aboriginal ancestry.

File Review page 51

In  No Quiet Place, Kimelman J. describes the Province of Manitoba’s approach to aboriginal child welfare as being a continuation of policies, approach, and attitudes of Indian residential school era stating: “ with the closing of the residential schools, rather than providing the resources on reserves to build ecomonic security and providing the services to support responsible parenting, society found it easier and cheap to remove the children from their homes and apparently fill the market demand for children in Eastern Canada and the United States” (No Quiet Place, page 330)

Chief Judge Edwin C. Kimelman of the Provincial Court, Family Division, to head an inquiry into the child welfare system and how it affected Aboriginal people. In his final report, No Quiet Place, Chief Judge Kimelman concluded that the Aboriginal leaders were right; the child welfare system was guilty of “cultural genocide.

Chief Judge Kimelman advocated a drastic overhaul of the child welfare system in Manitoba. Some of his recommendations included:

• That Aboriginal child and family services agencies be notified whenever an Aboriginal child came into care.

• That policies and standards be implemented that would improve repatriation of Aboriginal children to their own communities and reunify Aboriginal children with their own families.

• That more, and more appropriate, resources be devoted to allow for placement homes in Aboriginal communities.

• That greater support be given to Aboriginal agencies to help them provide services to their off-reserve populations.

• That greater use be made of the extended family.

• That adoption in a non-Aboriginal home be used only as a last resort.

• That cultural awareness training be provided to all those working in Aboriginal communities or with Aboriginal people.

• That there be a more vigorous and stringent court review of cases involving Aboriginal children in care.

• That a program of “affirmative action” hiring be instituted

The 60’s Scoop – “Do you know what the 60 scoop means? “

The 60’s scoop

Karyn Russell  May 17th 2011

If one were to walk down any street of Canada and ask them if they knew about an important Canadian historical fact “Do you know what the 60 scoop means? “ The answer would be a resounding “No” that is unless you are First Nations

The 60 scoop era is a very important part of Canada’s unknown and often hidden history that started right after the Residential School era, some say it started even sooner than the 60’s and many say the statistics given about the number of children is far higher than records have ever shown- if there is ever to be true reconciliation and healing there first has to be an acknowledge of a government policy in which children were removed from their homes and communities without warning or consent.

These children were then adopted out or placed into foster care within non-native homes throughout Canada, the United States and even sent as far out as Europe- far from their culture, their spirituality, their traditions, their homelands… even those who grew up just miles away from their place of birth it was like they were in another world- everything they once were was wiped away and replaced with new foreign identities which ultimately lead to a loss of self-identity and a sense of isolation.

Many of us were never taught by our adoptive families, nor by the history classes in our schools that our Aboriginal people have a rich, beautiful and spiritual culture steeped with a deep powerful connection to this land and the creator; instead we were taught all the typical stereotypes and in essence to be prejudice and ashamed against ourselves that is if we ever were told the truth about our heritage…. Many of us were given information that was misleading or simply not true maybe it was an effort to keep us from finding our way home- we may never know the truth on that matter. I often advise people in their search to find the truth out themselves rather than to rely on information given to them in their childhood.

If we just let go for one minute even the concept of race, religion and just think about the human bond between a parent and a child- if we can just think about is what if it were you- what if one day the government came into your home and took your children away- how would you feel, what would you do and how would you survive something so devastating; it is not something any parent, nor child should ever endure yet ours did and yet it is something that is marginalized, ignored and denied.

What the government forgot is you cannot wipe away the color of our skin, nor the beat of our hearts and our spirits will always call us home… and you cannot kill the Indian within.

We are no longer those children lost and confused, beaten and silenced… we are adults who each have our sorrows and childhood grief’s to overcome- we are all stronger than anyone knew that we could be and one way or another we will find our way home again and we will stand proud of who we are.

It is because of technology each of us have come to understand the truth hidden from us for so long and have learned history our people have endured for centuries. It because of technology we are now able to join forces, to extend that hand of healing and the words of encouragement to everyone on that road back to who they once were- we know that we are not alone!

ARENA – The Adoption Resource Exchange of North America

Administered by the Child Welfare League of America and funded by a federal contract from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Children’s Bureau, the Indian Adoption Project lasted from 1958 through 1967. During an era when matching dominated adoption practice, it placed 395 Native American children from 16 western states with white families in Illinois, Indiana, New York, Massachusetts, Missouri, and other states in the East and Midwest. (Only 14 children were adopted by Southern families and one child was adopted in Puerto Rico.) Approximately fifty public and private adoption agencies cooperated with the project, but the largest number of children were placed by agencies that were leaders in African-American adoptions and services to children of color: Louise Wise Services and Spence-Chapin Adoption Services (both of New York) and the Children’s Bureau of Delaware.

Becuse tribes are legally considered sovereign nations, the incorporation of Indian children into non-Indian families constituted a kind of international as well as trans-racial adoption, paralleling the adoptions of foreign children from Europe and Asia after 1945. The Indian Adoption Project was perhaps the single most important exception to race-matching, an almost universal policy at the time. It aspired to systematically place an entire child population across lines of nation, culture, and race.

The project’s Director, Arnold Lyslo, and many other child welfare leaders viewed the Indian Adoption Project as an example of enlightened adoption practice, made possible by a decrease in the climate of racial prejudice that had formerly prevented the adoption of Native American children. “One can no longer say that the Indian child is the ‘forgotten child’,” Lyslo proudly declared upon the project’s completion. The Adoption Resource Exchange of North America (ARENA), founded in 1966, was the immediate successor to the Indian Adoption Project. ARENA was the first national adoption resource exchange devoted to finding homes for hard-to-place children. It continued the practice of placing Native American children with white adoptive parents for a number of years in the early 1970s.

A significant outcome study of families who adopted through the Indian Adoption Project was conducted from 1960 to 1968 by David Fanshel, a well-known child welfare researcher. Fanshel studied the motivations of parents and the outcomes for children in approximately one-quarter of all the adoptions arranged through the Indian Adoption Project. In Far from the Reservation, Fanshel concluded that the vast majority of children and families had adjusted extremely well, but he also anticipated criticism. “It may be that Indian leaders would rather see their children share the fate of their fellow Indians than lose them in the white world. It is for the Indian people to decide.”

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Native American activists and their allies challenged the idea that the Indian Adoption Project was a triumph for civil rights and equality. They denounced the project as the most recent in a long line of genocidal policies toward native communities and cultures. Tribal advocates worked hard for the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which reacted against the Indian Adoption Project by making it extremely difficult for Native American children to be adopted by non-native parents. In June 2001, Child Welfare League Executive Director Shay Bilchik legitimated Native concerns, formally apologizing for the Indian Adoption Project at a meeting of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. He put the Child Welfare League of America on record in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act. “No matter how well intentioned and how squarely in the mainstream this was at the time,” he said, “it was wrong; it was hurtful; and it reflected a kind of bias that surfaces

AIM Program -60’s Scoop

AIM Program – 60′s Scoop

Did you know that the Allen Blakeney government appointed people to go onto First Nations reserves to forcebly remove children from their parents, sometimes without the parents knowledge. Just imagine coming home from work and your children are gone!! There is nothing more devastating than finding your children gone, even when you found out where they were, you could not do anything to get them back – if you did chances are you would break the law and chances are you would spend time in jail.

This story among thousands happened all the time to First Nations families, all across the country people still don’t know what happened to their children.

” April 1, 1967 was the inaugural date of the program (AIM -Adopt Indian and Metis children) geared to placing Indian and Metis children for adoption. Undertaken as a two-year pilot project to determine the feasability of such placement. AIM was designed to operate in a specific area of the province (the south-east corner), and to provide publicity and follow-up service to communities, groups and interested parties. “-Saskatchewan Department of Welfare, Annual Report 1967 – 1968

I remember one time during the late spring (May 1972)- my cousin was keeping us -she was 17 years old and my youngest brother Roddy was 4 years old , Bert was 6 and I was 8 years old, it was after school and we were instructed by my parents to go to my uncle’s house as they had to go into town to sell pickets and get groceries. We decided to take a walk to my Grandma’s house just down the road, as we were walking my cousin noticed a bird’s nest in the bushes off the road. My cousin decided to climb the tree and told us to wait by the road – she did’nt want us to get our school clothes dirty. As soon as she climbed the tree , out from nowhere a car pulled up beside us. What I noticed was a large picture on the side of the car with fancy royal script and a picture of a crown, when it stopped a man in a tight brown-grey suit stepped out from the passenger side and asked us what our names were and to get into the back seat, the driver never stepped out but he had on glasses and never smiled. My cousin (Dorothy Starchief) came rushing down the tree yelling for us to run – “Ta-pa-sihk Indian Affairs!!!!”(“Run away Indian Affairs!!!). The guy in the brown-grey suit took one look at my cousin, got in the car and they drove away , all you could see was the dust in the air. When all this excitement was over it was than that my cousin told us that we could have been picked up by the Indian Affairs and taken away. I always think about this and I often think about the guy in the brown-grey suit, because he was a First Nations man.

Once the children were taken away with just the clothes on their backs, they were taken to the social services, the boys had their hair shaved and the girls had bowl cuts – this was to get rid of lice, their clothes were burned and new ones (usually cast offs) were put on them. Than the Social Services would take a picture of the child and placed an ad in the Star-Phoenix Newspaper (Saskatoon, SK) advertising the child’s qualities without mention of the child’s history and race. There were whole families that were apprehended and separated, some adopted out of the province and in some cases out of country. (These ads can be found in the Frances Morrison Library Archives -Newspaper microfiche- 1960 – 1985, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)(there were brochures that were distributed all over the world about the new AIM Program)

It is sad to understand what feelings the parents suffered during these times , many parents died without knowing about their children and many children died without ever knowing thier families again.

This type of forceble adoption and apprehension deserves the same legal practices, apology and payment as the Residential School System as both were developed through the policies of the Canadian Government and Indian Affairs Branch, which devastated the First Nations people and continues to this very day. The policy was designed in conjunction to the assimiliation strategies of the Canadian Government to get rid of First Nations people and their treaty status.