Saskatchewan social services minister hopes to see an official apology for the ’60s scoop by the end of the year.
Currently, the province is working with Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Saskatchewan (SSISS) to host sharing circles around the province. Once the final sharing circle is complete, SSISS will submit a report on their findings to the province.
“We would be looking at receiving a report from the ’60s Scoop group to be able to formulate and go from there, and we want to work with them on this. We want to make sure the timeline is good for them,” Social Services Minister Pual Merriman said.
The Saskatchewan government has long promised an official apology for the scoop. Previously, scheduling conflicts involving the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and Metis Nation of Saskatchewan have been referenced for the delay.
The ’60s Scoop refers to a period running from the 1950s to 1980s where thousands of Indigenous and Metis children were removed from their home communities and adopted by primarily white families across Canada and into the United States.
The report compiling the sharing circle stories is due one week after the final session takes place, November 25 at Regina’s mâmawêyatitân centre.
Opposition Leader Ryan Meili worries this timeline is burdensome for volunteers running the sharing circles.
“What I’ve heard talking to members of that group is that the timeline has been a source of stress for them now,” Meili said.
SSISS member Robert Doucette said that the timelines are tight, but they’re doing the hard work.
“We’re all working really hard to get to the destination that we need to be. That’s to tell the premier and cabinet what’s on the mind of ’60s Scoop survivors, and to go from there,” Doucette said.
“The timeline is tight, but we’re all working very hard right now.”
The stories shared in the circles are confidential once they are told. Doucette, who is a survivor himself, said that there are consistent themes of loneliness, a loss of cultural identity and rejection from home communities upon returning.
“A lot of us feel alone, that this only happened to us, and when you come to the sharing circle people finally realize that there are other people that have similar experiences,” Doucette said.
Other things discussed in the sharing circles include how the ’60s scoop affected survivor’s lives, their families and what a meaningful apology looks like.
While the formal apology is a main goal of the sharing circles, Doucette says the final result needs to be more than just that.
“SSISS said to the minister and other government officials that we would like to see more after this apology in terms of strategies to help people deal with their health issues,” Doucette explained.
“There’s depression, there’s sadness. We would like to see some support services. All of those issues will be rolled up into the report.”
The remaining sharing circle sessions will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a pipe ceremony at 7:30 a.m.:
• Nov. 3 and 4: Saskatoon Indian & Métis Friendship Centre, Saskatoon
• Nov. 17: Treaty Four Governance Centre, Fort Qu’Appelle
• Nov. 24 and 25: mâmawêyatitân centre, Regina
There is also the option to submit stories online, if unable to attend a sharing circle.