Those were the words of Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who apologized in Regina today for the provincial government’s role in the '60s Scoop. The apology took place during a special presentation at the Legislature, which included invited guests and '60s Scoop survivors. When Moe rose from his seat to issue the apology on behalf of all residents of Saskatchewan, he expressed regret for what happened to thousands of individuals for more than four decades.
“This is a day for our government to acknowledge with honesty, with humility and with deep regret, what happened in Saskatchewan,” he said. “The '60s Scoop refers to a period in time in Canadian history where Indigenous children were removed from their families and their communities by child welfare services. Thousands of First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were placed in non-Indigenous foster and adoptive homes in Saskatchewan, and in some cases, across Canada and the United States.”
Moe stated not nearly enough consideration was given to the fact Indigenous children come from communities with their own traditions, cultures and history. As a result, he noted families were separated and children grew up without an identity. Moe described many '60s Scoop survivors as “caught between two worlds” without a sense of who they were or where they came from.
Moe also talked about the six sharing circles held throughout Saskatchewan leading up to the apology and how more than 200 survivors participated. He said the provincial government failed those survivors.
“We failed their families. And we failed their communities. We failed,” Moe said. “On behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan and on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan, I stand before you today to apologize. I stand before you today to say sorry. We are sorry for the pain and sadness you have experienced. We are sorry for your loss of culture and language. And to all those who lost contact with their family, we are so sorry.”
Moe’s speech didn’t include any monetary compensation for survivors or plan to reduce the number of Indigenous children in care, but he stated the provincial government works with 17 First Nation child and families services organizations. He said more is being done to keep siblings together, as well as recruit more First Nations and Métis foster families. Cultural training is also being provided for non-Indigenous foster families, he added.
“My pledge to you today is we will honour and respect your experiences,” he said. “We will learn for your experiences and we will continue to engage with you. While we will never right this wrong completely, I believe we can move forward with open hearts and a common purpose.”
Métis Nation – Saskatchewan Northern Region 1 Director Earl Cook said he wasn’t impressed by the apology, stating right now it’s just words.
He said there are programs the provincial government should be doing in the North, but aren’t, and he’d like to see details of the programming Moe stated was underway in his speech.
Cook noted northern Saskatchewan is home to many Métis '60s Scoop survivors.
“It’s pretty cheap to say 'We’re sorry,'” Cook said. “What type of new programs are in place to alleviate that? One of the things that bugs me is they shut down NORTEP (Northern Teacher Education Program) and NORTEP was to serve the Métis population in northern Saskatchewan.”
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