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‘We were forgotten’: Sixties Scoop, residential and day school survivors reconnect with lost culture

Dozens of survivors who lived through residential and day schools, as well as the Sixties Scoop, came together at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg Saturday to reconnect with their culture.

As part of a symposium organized by Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), people were encouraged to share their stories of survival – helping reclaim what they lost when they were taken from their families.

“We want everybody to hear us because we were forgotten,” said Beverly Lee, a Sixties Scoop survivor. “And now we want to move on with our lives so we can help other people, all the Métis people with the residential schools, the day schools.”

Lee, who is 70 years old, had six siblings growing up. She said her parents would often tell them to go and hide to prevent their children from being taken away.

“I survived the Scoop. I am proud of my parents for hiding me,” she said.

According to MMF president David Chartrand, the Sixties Scoop – which roughly began in the early 1960s and lasted into the 1980s – was a period when child welfare authorities would take Indigenous children from their families, place them into foster homes, before they were adopted by white families.

“A lot of kids were scooped up from their houses for no apparent reason whatsoever,” Chartrand said. “And people never knew what happened to them.”

Lee said she also faced physical abuse once she attended Catholic school. But she said participating in the symposium helped make her stronger.

“You hear their stories, and you can relate to their stories,” she said. “You heal.”

“I’m getting stronger every day because I’ve put it in the back of my mind for so many years, that it’s only now coming out.”

But Lee and Chartrand said more can be done to support survivors.

“If you go into our Métis villages, there are no supports,” Chartrand said. “To this day, this country has never resolved that issue of ‘How do we help these people? We did all the wrong we did all the damage, how do we help fix it?’”

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