Moe has chance to make amends, set new tone

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There aren’t many oc­ca­sions when politi­cians get to right past wrongs ... and maybe even avoid fu­ture ones.Premier Scott Moe’s apol­ogy Mon­day to Six­ties Scoop chil­dren is one of those rare op­por­tu­ni­ties to not only fix past mis­takes, but also say some­thing pro­found about Saskatchewan’s on­go­ing strug­gles with First Na­tions/ Metis re­la­tions.Surely the prov­ince needs this right now.Moe’s govern­ment has so far said noth­ing about what it in­tends to say on Mon­day, which is ac­tu­ally a good thing. Noth­ing drains the sin­cer­ity out of an apol­ogy more than the per­cep­tion that the govern­ment is mak­ing it a po­lit­i­cal event.But an even big­ger dan­ger would be for Moe not to see the apol­ogy as the op­por­tu­nity it is.First and fore­most, Moe needs to look the Six­ties Scoop chil­dren in the face and un­equiv­o­cally say that what was done was wrong. They need to hear it. We all need to hear it.While this is­sue goes back a half-cen­tury, Saskatchewan was clearly one of the worst of­fend­ers.Other prov­inces per­mit­ted adopt­ing of chil­dren from First Na­tions and Metis fam­i­lies, but Saskatchewan So­cial Ser­vices un­der the Lib­eral Ross Thatcher govern­ment in 1967 im­ple­mented its ag­gres­sive Adopt In­dian Metis (AIM) pro­gram, which re­moved ba­bies from their mothers (some­times, as new­borns) to be raised by non-metis or non-first Na­tions fam­i­lies miles, prov­inces and some­times con­ti­nents away.As per the re­quests of groups like the Six­ties Scoop In­dige­nous So­ci­ety of Saskatchewan, Moe needs to ac­knowl­edge what hap­pened was wrong and com­mit to con­tin­u­ing di­a­logue for bet­ter un­der­stand­ing.While an apol­ogy is im­por­tant to the ag­grieved still in need of heal­ing, it may be more im­por­tant to those of us who weren’t ag­grieved.Moe’s apol­ogy also needs to speak to oth­ers in the prov­ince who ei­ther: (a) don’t know or un­der­stand the con­cerns and his­tor­i­cal griev­ances, and; (b) gen­er­ally don’t want to think about or try to un­der­stand how all such is­sues may play into mod­ern-day so­cial prob­lems.Con­trary to the no­tion that these prob­lems are ex­clu­sive to right-wing thinkers, the Six­ties Scoop demon­strates how mis­un­der­stand­ing and wrong-headed think­ing cuts across philo­soph­i­cal lines.AIM started un­der a Lib­eral govern­ment and was car­ried on un­der the Al­lan Blakeney NDP govern­ment of the 1970s, en­joy­ing sub­stan­tial sup­port from the left of the day who were more will­ing to en­dure the still-some­what-so­ci­etally-un­ac­cept­able no­tion of the day of adopt­ing a child of an­other race.But whether right, left or cen­tre, it serves no pur­pose for any­one to jus­tify what hap­pened be­cause in­ten­tions were well mean­ing or be­cause some Six­ties Scoop chil­dren are well-ad­justed. Re­search, doc­u­men­taries and doc­u­mented tes­ti­mo­ni­als be­fore the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion clearly demon­strate why this was a failed pol­icy.Moe is well-po­si­tioned to not only say some­thing pro­found about our past mis­takes, but also how we might avoid re­peat­ing those mis­takes into the fu­ture. It won’t be an easy thing for the Saskatchewan premier to do.Moe has some­times strug­gled with his role in this re­gard, and per­haps his views on these is­sues. There have been oc­ca­sions when he’s risen to chal­lenge, like he did a year ago when he met with Colten Boushie’s fam­ily af­ter the Ger­ald Stan­ley verdict.But given what we now know af­ter the Foi-re­leased in­for­ma­tion on the teepee camp, the kind­est thing one can say is that Moe and his Sask. Party govern­ment have not been in­ter­ested or at­tuned to First Na­tions griev­ances. (Less kind would be to ob­serve that Moe’s govern­ment has been de­lib­er­ately di­vi­sive and po­lit­i­cal, as per the let­ter from First Na­tions and Metis Re­la­tions Min­is­ter War­ren Kaed­ing to ru­ral news­pa­pers com­plain­ing about the Was­cana Park “il­le­gal” cam­pers.)Mon­day is a chance forMoe not just to make amends to Six­ties Scoop sur­vivors, but to also set a new tone for di­a­logue with the rest of the prov­ince.The premier needs to rise to the oc­ca­sion.

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