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B.C. regional district calls on Premier Horgan to apologize for Sixties Scoop

Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan have already issued apologies for removing thousands of Indigenous children from their homes and placing them in foster care.
Crowds view Bi-Giwen: Coming Home - Truth Telling from the Sixties Scoop exhibit.

The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George is calling on Premier John Horgan to issue an apology, on behalf of the Province of British Columbia, for its role in the Sixties Scoop.

On Thursday the district board of directors unanimously approved a motion to write a letter to Horgan calling for the historic apology.

“The Sixties Scoop is the catch-all name for a series of policies enacted by provincial child welfare authorities starting in the mid-1950s, which saw thousands of Indigenous children taken from their homes and families, placed in foster homes, and eventually adopted out to white families from across Canada and the United States. These children lost their names, their languages, and a connection to their heritage. Sadly, many were also abused and made to feel ashamed of who they were,” board chairperson Art Kaehn and vice-chairperson Lara Beckett wrote in a report to the board. “The (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) cites the Sixties Scoop as an important part of Canada’s legislative ‘cultural genocide’ against Indigenous peoples.”

On June 19, 2015 Manitoba became the first province to formally apologize for its role in the Sixties Scoop and announced plans to include information about the event into public school curriculums, Kaehn and Beckett wrote in the report. Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley apologized to Albertan Sixties Scoop survivors in May 2018 and the Province of Saskatchewan issued a formal apology in January 2019.

B.C. has not issued an apology for its role in the Sixties Scoop.

On June 1, the Prince George Public Library hosted an exhibit called Bi-Giwen: Coming Home – Truth Telling from the Sixties Scoop, presented by the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta.

“It was an unbelievably moving presentation,” Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall said. Hall sits on the regional district board as a director.

District director Danielle Alan said she would like to see the province commit to addressing the over-representation of Indigenous children in care, and asked the letter also raise that issue.

“I certainly understand where director Alan is coming from,” Beckett said, but several B.C. First Nations have already taken the lead on that issue.