The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling for a provincial moratorium on adoptions involving First Nations children.
The call for a moratorium was a part of FSIN’s response to Premier Scott Moe’s apology for the province’s role in the Sixties Scoop. The organization acknowledged and welcomed the apology, but called for actions to go along with the words.
“The federation’s viewpoint is the apology is a great start, but with a sincere apology comes a change in behaviour. The Ministry still continues to adopt out our children and the grant out permanent guardianship of First Nations children into the system,” vice chief David Pratt said in a phone interview Monday.
“There are several cases right now we’re dealing with where this practice is still going on, where great-grandparents are attempting to bring their great-grandchildren home, care for them, provide for them in a safe environment and the ministries are still denying those family rights.”
Instead, Pratt would like to see the provincial Ministry of Social Services work with First Nations groups to keep child welfare in the hands of First Nations.
“They’re apologizing for the Sixties Scoop and that’s great, but they don’t realize they’re setting themselves up to down the road where there’s going to be a millennials scoop. There’s going to be a nineties scoop and an eighties scoop because our children are still being taken away from us,” Pratt said.
“That has to stop.”
Pratt said he has had some productive discussions with Paul Merriman, Minister of Social Services. They’re looking at incoming federal reforms, currently being drafted, that will give First Nations more autonomy in how to deal with child welfare in their communities.
“I’m hoping that as part of this reform … a lot of what’s going on right now will stop,” Pratt said.
“I’m hopeful that it happens sooner rather than later because I get the phone calls. We get the phone calls about families that are still, even after the apology in Alberta, seeing ministries taking our children away.”
Pratt acknowledged that some work had been done, with a number of First Nations agencies signing bilateral agreements to manage child welfare and with growing recognition of Jordan’s Principle, which ensures that on and off-reserve Indigenous children receive equitable access to government support.
“A lot of the work has already been done,” Pratt said. “We’ve had some good things happen over the last couple of years. But we’re expecting and we hope there will be a change in behaviour.”
While the provincial NDP didn’t call for a moratorium on adoptions, leader Ryan Meili did put out a statement calling for action.
“This is also a moment for us to take a hard look at what happened, and why. We have to recognize that the conditions that created the Sixties Scoop — the fault lines of racism and inequality that divide our province — are still with us. We must redouble our commitment to closing those gaps, to healing those divides, and to moving forward with the difficult and deeply important work of reconciliation,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we have a long way to go. Today, there are over 5,000 children in care in Saskatchewan, most of them First Nations and Métis, and over 600 newborns have been removed from Saskatchewan parents over the past five years. People are tired of good words that aren’t accompanied by action. If these injustices persist, we need to do something about them, instead of waiting for tomorrow’s leaders to apologize for today’s wrongs twenty years from now.”