TORONTO — The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies has apologized for harm done to Indigenous children and families in the province.
The association says it made the apology Tuesday during a gathering at Rama First Nation.
Association CEO Mary Ballantyne acknowledged and apologized for the harmful role child welfare has played historically, and continues to play, in the lives of Ontario's Indigenous children, families and communities.
Indigenous participants — including survivors of the '60s Scoop and residential schools — spoke to the gathering about the devastating impact the child welfare system has had on their communities.
Following the acknowledgment and apology, leaders and elders from Indigenous communities across the province were invited to respond.
The association says the apology was met with strong emotion and insistence that the words be matched by action and accountability.
"We apologize to the children, mothers and fathers who have been hurt by the '60s Scoop, which saw thousands of Indigenous children taken from their home, families and communities across Canada," Ballantyne said.
"The '60s Scoop and many current practices have resulted in cultural genocide for the Indigenous people of Ontario," she said.
Chief Marcia Brown Martel, lead plaintiff in the '60s Scoop lawsuit, Renee Linklater, and Rodney Howe all shared their experiences of being apprehended by child welfare and Brown Martel called the apology "encouraging."
Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon of Mushkegowuk Council said he recognized the "good intention" behind the apology.
"At this time, I cannot accept the apology," Solomon said. "How do you say sorry to parents who saw their child come home in a casket?"
The Canadian Press