Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said on Friday the provincial government is ready to make an apology for the Sixties Scoop — next week if possible.
A little more than a week before Wall announced he was retiring, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said the two spoke about the apology and that Wall was committed to getting it done before he leaves office.
“We both agreed we have to have this [apology] together but on First Nation land,” Cameron said, adding that has been his position since day one.
“We have to have it, where it’s meaningful … People still are grieving and people need to heal.”
Wall promised the province would issue a formal apology for the Sixties Scoop back in June 2015, about a week after former Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger issued an apology on behalf of that province.
More than two years later, nothing has materialized.
Cameron said scheduling conflicts have been a factor, as well as waiting for the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan election to take place.
“We’ve reached out to First Nation groups to say ‘you make the call,'” Wall said. “We will do it wherever and whenever.”
An estimated 20,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed with other families, mostly white and out of province or out of country, between the 1960s and 1980s.
In some cases, displaced children were paid for. The Sixties Scoop caused many of the adoptees to lose touch with their cultural identities and language.
Cameron said he would like the apology before Wall leaves office, preferably as soon as possible.
When the retirement announcement was made, Wall said he would stay on as premier until a new party leader had been elected.
“We’re hopeful we can get it done during that time frame,” Cameron said.
Children in care
Jurisdiction over Indigenous children in care has been a major point of concern to Cameron, one he would like to address with Wall before he leaves politics.
Cameron referenced the Saskatoon Tribal Council’s previous dealings with the province regarding children in care and a recent agreement in Manitoba in which northern First Nations regained control of child welfare services.
“That’s where we want to end up eventually and we’ll continue down that same path,” Cameron said. “We know how to best care for our own children.”