Adopt Indian and Métis Project (AIM)

Summary

Allyson Stevenson writes:

"From 1967 to 1969 [however Scoop policies continued into the 1980s), the province of Saskatchewan piloted the Adopt Indian and Métis Project as a targeted program to increase adoptions of overrepresented native children. The project was funded initially by the federal Department of Health and Welfare to determine if advertising Native children on television, radio and newspapers across southeastern Saskatchewan would induce families to investigate transracial adoption. The piloting of the Adopt Indian and Métis Program in 1967 called for little financial investment and did not require extensive negotiation between federal and provincial governments or a radically new approach to resolving the underlying economic and social factors contributing to increasing numbers of Aboriginal children coming into provincial care.

…not everyone viewed the Adopt Indian Métis ads with such admiration, or agreed that Aboriginal children should be placed white adoptive homes. The Métis Society, located in Saskatoon, undertook a campaign in 1971 to challenge the images utilized in the ads. That year, the Society formed the Métis Foster Home committee, led by Howard Adams and Métis activists Phyllis Trochie, Nora Thibodeau, and Vicki Racette to research the creation of a Métis-controlled foster home program. The group had a list of eleven reasons that the current government-run system was detrimental to children, parents, and the Métis community as a whole. Their objections centred on the lack of acceptance of Métis identity and citizenship by both white foster parents who raised the children and the larger white society in which the children were being raised. They claimed, furthermore, that “Past experience with the welfare department has proven that it is unable to treat Métis people as equal and full citizens and any new foster home plan under the welfare department would continue to be administered in a repressive and discriminatory way.

….The programs and policies that were administered by the Department of Social Services were operated under the paternalistic Euro-Canadian belief that the Child Welfare bureaucracy and family courts alone could interpret the “best interests of the (Indigenous) child.” Métis people in Canada have a long history of child removal, and in Saskatchewan, were the first Indigenous peoples to recognize the genocidal threat of child removal to their future. The recent exclusion of the Métis children from the federal compensation agreement for the Sixties Scoop is reminiscent of Canada’s original disregard for the Métis peoples, which stretches back to 1869 and beyond.”

 

Date
1967-00-00
Region

Sixties Scoop

Summary

The Canadian constitution defined Indians as falling under federal jurisdiction whereas health and family services was provincial jurisdiction. This led to conflicts over who would provide services (and pay for those services) for Indigenous youth and families. The two levels of government resolved this (without consulting Indigenous people) by deciding that provinces would “care” for Indigenous youth in crisis by apprehending them and integrating them into non-Indigenous child and family service programs.  The result is what came to be known as the “Sixties Scoop” where Indigenous children were “scooped” up and adopted into predominantly non-Indigenous, middle-class families.

The Sixties Scoop experience left many adoptees with a lost sense of cultural identity. The physical and emotional separation from their birth families continues to affect adult adoptees and Indigenous communities to this day.

In Saskatchewan, particularly in the Northern region of the province, Indigenous children were taken or ‘scooped’ from their communities and relocated generally to non-Indigenous families in settled regions of the province. Through the provincial CCF party (the pre-cursor to the NDP), the scooping and relocation of Indigenous children from their home communities partially occurred because foster homes in the north were deemed incapable of meeting capacity. But of course scooping Indigenous children from their home communities created a social and cultural disconnect that contributed to their assimilation into “Canadian” society, and this was the long-term goal of the Canadian and provincial governments.  Scooping children contributed to assimilation by disconnecting Indigenous youth from their ancestral lands, resources, and livelihoods. Many Indigenous children who were scooped at birth or an early age were not told of their relocation or Indigenous kinship by their adoptive guardians, and only found out later in life.     


Newspaper advertisements for the Adopt Indian and Métis Program, late 1960s, Saskatchewan.


The scooping of Indigenous children dislocated them from their families, communities, and access to culture/culturally relevant upbringing.  It’s important to remember that during the 60s Scoop period Residential Schools were still operating. – Indigenous peoples were continually at risk of violence from early childhood, through their entire adolescent life, and into adulthood as well. For children who were separated from their families in the north sent to southern communities, and Indigenous children from across Canada, there was and often is a sense of cultural disconnect and an inability to find belonging meaningfully both inside and outside of their home communities.

Indigenous parents and their children continue to report ‘scooping’ through child welfare services with further placement into the foster system. For example, scooping through the practice of ‘birth alerts’ wherein hospital staff alerts child welfare services if they deem the child ‘at risk’ from their parents. Parents are not informed of the action nor provide consent for birth alerts. Birth alerts have historically and contemporarily targeted Indigenous mothers who are characterized as unfit or disengaged from their child despite no evidence. They allowed hospital staff to have final authority over who is ‘fit’ to parent a child, and these decisions are often informed by racist and classist assumptions and racial stereotypes.      


See Also: 

Adopt Indian and Métis Program

 

Date
1960-00-00

Criminal Behaviour

Summary

Tyman chronicles his life beginning with his removal from abusive family at age of four in Isle la Crosse and his relocation and subsequent adoption by a white family in Fort Qu'Appelle. He spent his life in and out of the correctional system. Tyman died on the streets in 2001.

Implications
Tyman's loss of culture, identity, and lack of knowledge regarding his First Nation heritage are compounded by small town racism and prejudice leading to increasing involvement with the law while in elementary school.
Sub Event
Social determinants

Lebret Public Elementary School (Not Residential School)

Summary

Not all Indigenous children were required to attend the Indian Residential School in Lebret - in "Relevant Resources" (listed below), James Tyman serves as an example of a visibly Indigenous Metis boy who was subjected to continual racism from his peers at the public elementary school in Lebret.

Implications
Experiences of racism compounded the difficulties caused by pre-existing issues of identity deriving from Tyman's status as an adopted child. Tyman was not provided with the social supports necessary to navigate constant exposure to ethnic discrimination and social rejection. A lack of acceptance and understanding from peers and authority figures (teachers, principal and parents) served to demotivate Tyman in terms of displaying pro-social behaviour, and eventually solidified a pattern of deviancy. Without the necessary social supports, these patterns of deviancy escalated until he was incarcerated.
Sub Event
Adoption of Indigenous Children by Non-Indigenous Parents
Date
1960-00-00
Community