Indigenous Families are separated 3x more often than white families in favour of placing the children into a broken underfunded foster care system.

“The Sixties Scoop” refers to the mass separation of indigenous children from their families in 1960’s Canada, where they would be taken away to Residential School. Although promised as a temporary action, almost all of the children fell extremely ill, lost the skill to communicate using the language they shared with their families, or died inside these schools. Instead, the children who survived became displaced, forced to assimilate into white communities that refused to accept them on an equal level.

Cut to present day, and the Canadian Government has just been sued for the exact same offence. Indigenous families are separated by social workers and government officials three times as often as white families. This is due to prejudices and misrepresentation of First Nations in Canadian healthcare, as well as a long-standing double standard regarding what it takes for a parent to be deemed as “fit” to care for children. For example, although a white parent and indigenous parent might be enduring similar struggles, the bar for the indigenous parent is unrealistically higher. Because of this, children are taken away much more often than in white families even though the household could be exactly the same. In Manitoba during the early 80s, provincial officials estimated they took in 600-700 indigenous children every month.

“A recent study found that 52% of children under 15 in foster care are indigenous. Yet Indigenous children are just under eight per cent of the under-15 population in Canada today.

More than 90 per cent of Manitoba’s 11,000 kids in care are Indigenous. In B.C. 64 per cent of our 6,804 kids in care identify as Indigenous, even though they make up just under 10 per cent of the population under 19.”

Katie Hyslop, TheTyee.ca

The children would then be placed in chronically underfunded foster care systems, where the adults responsible for care are grossly under assessed and without proper monthly allowance. This meant children were placed in abusive homes without sufficient opportunity for care, often with no opportunity to maintain their culture. This underfunding is the direct fault of the Canadian government, and the system they operate on is still modelled after the settlers ideas of First Nations upon first contact.

“Like every social issue facing Indigenous people in Canada, the origins date back to colonization.

The earliest settlers’ writings show their misunderstanding of Indigenous child-rearing and how their feelings of racial and cultural superiority clouded their judgments.

Early missionaries saw First Nations child-rearing practices as ‘negligent, irresponsible and uncivilized’ because they refused to physically punish their children and respected them as individuals, instead of seeing them as clean slates on which to write. Settler governments viewed Indigenous people, adults and children, as wards of the state. The 1876 Indian Act, …effectively gave government control over First Nations people’s lives, dictating where and how they would live, hunt, work and play…And how their children would be raised. Three years after the Indian Act was passed, then-prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald sent MP Nicholas F. Davin to the United States to study its system of industrial boarding schools for Native American children.”

Katie Hyslop, TheTyee.ca

To say this issue is multi-faceted would be an understatement. It is a perfect example of the cyclical damage caused by residential schools and the Canadian governments neglect to repair it. It demonstrates the depth of the mis-representation of Indigenous families, while showcasing the direct role that the government plays in perpetuation those stereotypes. As of September of 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Indigenous groups suing the Canadian government. It was intended that as of 2020, each child affected up until 2006 would be payed out a maximum of $40 000 dollars each for the trauma the government caused. The Trudeau Government announced in November that they planned to settle the class-action lawsuit after asking for an appeal in October.

With this project, I hope to do two things.

  • Educate non-indigenous Canadians on the humanitarian crisis and cyclical, deep-rooted nature of the displacement of indigenous children in the foster care system in an engaging, emotionally appealing way that bridges the gap of these being real families, as opposed to groups and statistics on the news. I want families who aren’t necessarily invested in the affairs of first nations children to realize the depth of the issue and that our past of residential schools are not yet behind us.
  • Create a call to action for those who are entitled to compensation to utilize an advertised service (most likely a website, or office in their city) to take the next steps in receiving compensation.

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