Survivors of the '60s Scoop share stories of displacement in new interactive map
TORONTO -- Indigenous survivors of a dark chapter in Canadian history are reuniting and sharing their stories thanks to a new online platform that maps their displacement across Canada and other parts of the world.
An estimated 20,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families between the 1950s and the 1980s, given new names and placed with non-Indigenous families, some of them outside Canada, in what is now known as the '60s Scoop.
Victims of this practice reached an $875-million settlement with the federal government in 2017. But the money does little to ease the trauma of losing one's cultural identity during childhood.
"Most of us were raised in isolation and never had any contact with any other Indigenous people until we were young adults," survivor Colleen Hele-Cardinal told CTV's Your Morning on Tuesday from Ottawa.
Although the victims of the '60s Scoop were able to reconnect with their families once they became adults, their forced removal from their homes had left them with scars. Hele-Cardinal said she and her sister were taken from their parents and placed with a family that had picked them out of a catalogue.
The settlement process helped some of the survivors connect, but Hele-Cardinal felt more was needed to help them heal together and educate others about what they had endured.
"There's very little for '60s Scoop survivors … to tell our stories or show what's happening to us, what's happened to us," she said.
To try and change this, Hele-Cardinal created an online map. "In Our Own Words" allows survivors to share their stories with each other, and with the wider world.
The map launched in late June, and Hele-Cardinal said she has already heard from Indigenous victims grateful for the platform and non-Indigenous people surprised to learn about what they went through.
"Talking about it and actually showing it are two different things," she said.
"People are actually just blown away that we've been taken so far from our traditional homelands."