The “Sixties Scoop” is a term used to describe a child welfare policy developed and implemented throughout the 1960s that involved apprehending Indigenous children from their communities and placing them into middle-class Euro-Canadian families that were hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles away from their families. The representation of Métis children within the child welfare system accelerated throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and even into the 1980s.
The practice of removing Métis children from their home and into state care existed long before the 1960s through the residential and day school system. However, throughout the late 1950s these institutions became highly discredited and the child welfare system became the new agent of assimilation and colonization.
The legacy of colonialism and the Eurocentric mindset dominated Canadian views of Indigenous people at a subconscious level, often portraying Indigenous people as less worthy and unfit to parent their children. These Euro-Western ideals and values were embedded within Canadian policy, the justice system, the child welfare system and were perpetuated by social workers, administrators, lawyers, government officials, and judges who viewed their everyday practices to be in the best interest of Indigenous children. Indigenous children often were apprehended because of the incongruence between Euro-Western notions, cultural practices and the realities of Indigenous communities; the ideal home for a child needed to be an environment to which society was familiar with: white, middle-class homes in white, middle-class neighbourhoods.
The separation of children away from their families and their placement into foster homes led to the destitution of family. Children were often physically, psychologically, and sexually abused while they were in the care of their non-Métis families. Much like the residential schools, children grew up in an environment that did not foster the growth of parenting or life skills. The forced removal of these children, and the intergenerational trauma, is directly linked to the socio-economic difficulties that face the Métis Nation today.
The Métis Nation remains committed to reconciliation in order to help our fractured families heal.