The Sixties Scoop

United Church of Canada, “Alvin Dixon,” from the United Church of Canada Pacific Mountain Region Archives (38f-c001524-d0139-001)

Between approximately 1951 and 1984, an estimated 20,000 or more First Nations, Métis and Inuit infants and children were taken from their families by child welfare authorities and placed for adoption in mostly non-Indigenous households. This mass removal of Indigenous children from their homes, supported by a series of government policies, became known as the ‘Sixties Scoop’.

Historically, Indian agents used their broad administrative powers to address child welfare matters on reserve. In 1951, governments introduced new legislation to empower social workers and provincial and territorial governments with this same authority.

Between 1960s and the 1980s, the “Sixties Scoop” removed First Nations, Métis and Inuit children from their homes, often without the consent, warning or even knowledge of the children’s families and communities. Children were adopted into predominantly non-Indigenous families, often out of province or out of the country and away from their languages, traditions and extended families. Parents and families were rarely notified about the locations of their children. Only after 1980, provincial child welfare workers informed Bands or communities of the location of children. Many families and children who were part of the Sixties Scoop are still searching for their relatives.

Today, the child welfare system in Canada is often not able to provide adequate or safe care to children or families, especially for Indigenous children. Advocates and organizations like the First Nations Caring Society support ongoing political, social and legal struggles in order to assure fair, just and safe care of Indigenous children in the ‘system.’ The current child welfare system is connected to both the history and the intergenerational impacts of the Indian Residential School System.

The Centre is involved in advocacy and initiatives related to the current state of the child welfare system and the recently introduced Bill C-92. In reaction to the Sixties Scoop and current child welfare programs, this Act is meant to empower Indigenous communities with inherent jurisdiction over the care of Indigenous children according to Indigenous traditional laws and values.

Learn more about the Sixties Scoop Settlement.

Read the Centre’s Statement in Support of a National Inquiry into the Sixties Scoop.

Further resources