Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has apologized to survivors of the Sixties Scoop for failing them and leaving them “caught between two worlds.”
“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 to say sorry,” Mr. Moe said at the legislature on Monday.
“We are sorry for the pain and the sadness that you have experienced. We are sorry for your loss of culture and language. And to all of those who lost contact with their family, we’re so sorry.”
About 20,000 Indigenous children were seized from their birth families and relocated to non-Indigenous homes starting in the 1950s until the late 1980s.
The practice stripped children of their language, culture and family ties.
Mr. Moe said the consequences are being felt to this day and he thanked the survivors, now adults, who told their stories at six sharing circles the government set up so that the province could better understand what happened.
“We are grateful for your candour and we are grateful for your courage,” he said.
Mr. Moe acknowledged that there “is nothing that we can offer that will fully restore what you have lost.
“But what we can offer is the solemn assurance that government policies have changed and they continue to change.”
Some survivors said before the apology that they hoped it would come with action to reduce the number of children in care.
Survivor Kerry Opoonechaw-Bellegarde, 43, said she was hoping to ask Mr. Moe personally to improve the foster-care system.
The number of children in out-of-home care in Saskatchewan was higher than 5,200 at the end of September.
Survivor George Scheelhaase said the government is apologizing for something that’s still going on. Children in Saskatchewan are still being apprehended in record numbers, he said.
Alberta and Manitoba have already apologized for their roles in the Sixties Scoop.