The process toward a formal apology for one of the darkest periods in Canadian history will start this month.
Six different Sharing Circles are planned across the province, including in our region, where survivors of the so-called Sixties Scoop, can tell their stories. The Sixties Scoop refers to a period in history when Indigenous children were taken from their family and community by child welfare services, predominantly in the 1960s, although the practice started in the late 1950s and continued into the 1980s.
In a media release Monday, the government said the Sharing Circles would help inform a meaningful apology.
“We remain committed to providing a public apology, at an appropriate time and location, to those affected by the Sixties Scoop,” Minister Responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs Warren Kaeding said.
The government release added the Sharing Circles “are to encourage substantive and respectful conversations about the Sixties Scoop.”
For Robert Doucette, a co-chair with the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Saskatchewan and a Scoop survivor, the Sharing Circles will be a key part of a journey for thousands of people and he wanted everyone affected to know this was a time to be heard.
“This will be an opportunity to provide your voice to what a truly meaningful apology could be,” he told paNOW. “This is our chance as a Sixties Scoop survivor to have our voice heard and in a lot of instances in this country you don’t get that opportunity.”
Doucette said the Sharing Circles would allow people to “release their story and begin the journey home.” He explained the various opportunities to share would be followed by a report to the government’s cabinet and to the premier so the information gleaned could form the basis of an apology.
“I would encourage all non-Indigenous people to show empathy with respect to these Sharing Circles and the news that might come out of it,” he said. ”Also I want to thank the government for being our partner in this historic moment; in my recollection I haven’t heard where the province of Saskatchewan has worked with Indigenous people to say sorry on any issue.”
Three of the six planned Sharing Circles are in our wider region:
Meadow Lake: Senior Citizens Activity Centre, 406 Fifth Avenue West, Saturday, Oct. 13
North Battleford: Western Development Museum, near Highways 16 and 40, Saturday, Oct. 20
Prince Albert: Senator Allen Bird Gym, 851-23rd Street West, Saturday, Oct. 27
Other Sharing Circles are planned for Saskatoon, Fort Qu’Appelle and Regina in November.
According to the province, all sessions will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a pipe ceremony starting at 7:30 a.m. Mental health support workers and elders will be available on-site to provide additional support as required. Media will not be allowed in the Sharing Circles.
Individuals unable to attend a Sharing Circle are welcome to submit their stories online at www.saskatchewan.ca/sixties-scoop where additional information is also available.
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