A powerful gathering in Nanaimo Saturday brought together adoptees of the Sixties Scoop, when Indigenous children were taken from their communities to be raised by white families. It happened across Canada between the 1950’s and 1980’s and has left many still searching for their birth parents identities today. Skye Ryan reports.
Katherine Legrange is still a mystery to herself at 45-years-old.
“Lots of pieces are still missing for me,” said Legrange, a Nanaimo woman who is a mother of three. “And that is an ongoing struggle.”
As a newborn Métis baby in Winnipeg in 1972 she was adopted out to a white family, in a program that’s come to be known as the the Sixties Scoop.
Thousands of indigenous children were scooped from their communities to be raised by white families that never shared their cultural traditions.
Legrange has spent her life trying to find out who her birth parents were.
“We were robbed of our identity, of our culture, our families,” she said.
The people sharing in a Nanaimo gathering Saturday knew precisely how that felt, and shared the impact that being scooped has had on them.
“For most of us this is the first time we’ve been able to share our stories as a group of Sixties Scoop survivors in B.C. and for me its really powerful,” added Lagrange.
“It’s strengthening to be here with the community to grow a healing,” said Kelly White, who is also a Sixties Scoop adoptee.
Their stories still bring them to tears, and there are opposing views on whether they should accept the settlement the Canadian government is offering survivors, since Métis children like Katherine Legrange have not been included in the 800-million dollar settlement, but there is a bond they say can’t be broken after what they’ve been through.
“I feel that it’s time for us to stand up and share our strength cause we’re not the weakness of this country,” said White.
All are hopeful they will one day find the closure they are seeking and Legrange’s story offers them hope.
Just weeks ago she learned her birth father’s identity and saw his face for the first time in a photo.
“Its a start to be able to explore where I come from who my family is,” said Lagrange.
Her father died in 1982, yet she is hopeful her mother may still be out there and that she may one day be able to meet her To heal a wound she’s been carrying around since a young girl.