Editor’s note: When this story was first published it referred to the “so-called” ’60s Scoop. Global News has since replaced “so-called” with “what’s known as” to better reflect our intent.
Premier Rachel Notley has formally apologized on behalf of Alberta to the survivors of what’s known as the ’60s Scoop for the province’s part in seizing Indigenous children from their families and alienating them from their culture.
“We are sorry,” Notley said in the legislature Monday as survivors sat in the gallery, some wiping away tears. “For the loss of families, stability, of love, we are sorry.
“For the loss of identity, language and culture, we are sorry. For the loneliness, the anger, the confusion and the frustration, we are sorry.
“For the government practice that left you, Indigenous people, estranged from your families and your communities and your history, we are sorry. For this trauma, this pain, this suffering, alienation and sadness, we are sorry.
“To all of you, I am sorry.”
Alberta becomes the second province to acknowledge its role and seek to make amends for a dark chapter in Canadian history. Former Manitoba premier Greg Selinger apologized on behalf of that province in 2015.
Alberta’s apology comes after a province-wide consultation during which, Notley said, 800 survivors shared their stories.
From the 1950s to the late 1980s, about 20,000 Indigenous children were seized from their birth families and relocated to non-Indigenous homes, stripping the children of their language, traditions and family ties.
The apprehensions peaked in the 1960s, giving rise to the term ’60s Scoop.
Survivors are still dealing with emotional trauma, which has been compared to that of residential school survivors.
Notley said their experiences are heartbreaking.
“Children, kids, babies, toddlers, teens ripped from your families,” Notley said.
“Parents, unable to see through the tears as they took your children away from you. Grandparents, forced aside as your families were destroyed.”
The government heard stories of survivors who were lied to and told they weren’t wanted by their parents or that they weren’t able to be properly cared for. Many shared stories of abuse, starvation, forced labour, neglect and racism in their adoptive homes and communities.
“Make no mistake, the ’60s Scoop was an assault on Indigenous identity,” Notley said. “It is no wonder that it is so hard for so many of you to trust again.”
Notley told survivors the province promises to work in the spirit of reconciliation and consultation in the future.
“Together we can help heal the wounds of the past.”
“In the true spirit of reconciliation, this apology from the premier is an acknowledgement that the Sixties Scoop was a dark chapter in Alberta’s history,” said Adam North Peigan, president of the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta.
“This apology is long overdue and is a greatly needed step in the healing process for our Indigenous communities.
“This apology means a lot, not only to survivors, but to Albertans in general as well because it’s an opportunity to create public awareness on the history and legacy of the Sixties Scoop.”
Watch below: Premier Notley made an historic acknowledgement of Alberta’s history of removing Indigenous children from their families and culture. As Tom Vernon reports, Indigenous leaders call this a first step.
Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota First Nation, said Monday’s apology marked a crucial moment in history.
“I know many of our people can start healing and move forward. It’s through these acts of reconciliation, we as a society, can build trust and understanding together to become a stronger, safer, and more resilient nation.”
— With files from Global News.