The Kawartha Haliburton Children’s Aid Society (KHCAS) in Peterborough has apologized to Hiawatha First Nation for what it says were “harmful practices” from the ’60s Scoop.
The movement from the 1960s through to the 1980s saw Indigenous children removed from their homes by child welfare workers and usually placed in non-Indigenous foster and adoptive homes.
On Wednesday, Hiawatha First Nation hosted KHCAS where the society acknowledged and apologized for the harmful role it played historically in the lives of children, families and communities in Hiawatha First Nation, about 22 kilometres south of Peterborough.
KHCAS board president Rod Sutherland said while some adoptive families provided loving and supportive homes, it recognizes the Scoop movement as a “practice of forced cultural assimilation” which interfered, disrupted and traumatized generations of Indigenous families.
“I extend our sincere apologies to the children, parents and grandparents who have been separated by and experienced harm from the colonialized practices from the Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society,” he said.
Executive director Jennifer Wilson says KHCAS has a long path towards reconciliation and healing of “historic injustices.” Wilson acknowledges that intergenerational trauma from abuse, neglect and cultural assimilation practices of residential school systems left many parents and families ill-equipped to manage relationships and to parent in meaningful ways.
“We apologize that we did not, as an organization, mobilize to support, understand and recognize the impact of intergenerational trauma,” stated Wilson. “Nor your rights as Indigenous people to protect your land, your treaties and most especially your children.”
Hiawatha First Nation Chief Laurie Carr says the KHCAS’ acknowledgment and apology is a first step for reconciliation for community members.
“A next step is the continued support of KHCAS as we move forward into servicing our own families through our Indigenous agency, Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child and Family Services,” stated Carr.
“It is vital to all our children, families, and communities that our First Nations take back jurisdiction of all our children.”
The evening event included a presentation from Amber Crowe, executive director of Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child & Family Services, about child and family well-being as the agency prepares to be designated as a child welfare organization.