Saskatchewan pre­mier of­fi­cially apol­o­gizes to ’60s Scoop sur­vivors

‘We are sorry for the pain and the sad­ness that you have ex­pe­ri­enced’

StarMetro Vancouver - - BIG OPINIONS - Ryan Mckenna

REGINA — Saskatchewan Pre­mier Scott Moe apol­o­gized to sur­vivors of the ‘60s Scoop Mon­day 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,” Moe said be­fore around 200 peo­ple at the leg­is­la­ture.

“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.

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.

Sur­vivor Kerry Opoonechaw-bel­le­garde, 43, said she felt lonely go­ing into the leg­is­la­ture be­cause she wanted her par­ents to be there.

Both of her par­ents were res­i­den­tial school sur­vivors.

She had hoped Moe would men­tion the par­ents of those seized in his apol­ogy.

She met with Moe af­ter­wards but left dis­ap­pointed.

“I showed him the pic­ture of my par­ents and I said, ‘You for­got to di­rectly apol­o­gize to our par­ents,’” Opoonechaw-bel­le­garde said.

Robert Doucette, a sur­vivor and co-chair of Six­ties Scoop In­dige­nous So­ci­ety of Saskatchewan, said he cried dur­ing the cer­e­mony as he thought about lost mem­bers of his fam­ily that he’ll never see.

The apol­ogy was a high­light of his life and a step in the right di­rec­tion, he said.

“I waited 56 years for this apol­ogy,” Doucette said.

“I heard the pre­mier say he was sorry, and there was ac­knowl­edg­ment of the harms that they per­pe­trated on First Na­tions and Métis chil­dren and I ap­pre­ci­ate that.” Karen Larocque of the Riel Reel­ers, left to right, dances with Robert Doucette and Pre­mier Scott Moe at the con­clu­sion of the apol­ogy to Six­ties Scoop Sur­vivors.

Sur­vivor Terri Par­sons said the apol­ogy was very mov­ing and needed to be said.

Al­berta and Man­i­toba have al­ready apol­o­gized for their role in the ‘60s Scoop.

‘A step in the right di­rec­tion for the fu­ture.’ Read more at thes­tar.com/canada

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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