The 1960s Scoop: A Dark Chapter in Canadian History

The 1960s Scoop: A Dark Chapter in Canadian History

The 1960s scoop is a dark chapter in Canadian history. Between 1955 and 1985, an estimated 20,000 Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their homes by child welfare authorities and adopted into non-Indigenous families. These children lost their connection to their culture, language, and families. In some cases, they were abused or neglected in their new homes. It wasn't until the late 1990s that the government began to address this issue. In 2008, the government issued an apology to the survivors of the 1960s scoop.

The Origins of the 1960s Scoop
The origins of the 1960s scoop can be traced back to the 1950s when the Canadian government enacted the Indian Act. The Indian Act gave the government control over all aspects of Indigenous peoples' lives, including education, health care, and child welfare. As a result of the Indian Act, Indigenous children were often removed from their homes and placed in foster care or adopted into non-Indigenous families.

The Impact of the 1960s Scoop
The 1960s scoop had a devastating effect on Indigenous communities across Canada. Thousands of children were torn away from their families and cultures. Many of these children were abused or neglected in their new homes. As adults, some survivors of the 1960s scoop struggle with addiction, mental health issues, and intergenerational trauma.

Indigenous children were removed from their homes on a large scale across Canada. Welfare authorities did not need to give much notice to remove the children and may do so under any excuse. Even babies were sometimes stolen.

Sometimes siblings were separated and adopted by different homes. Aside from losing contact with their families, these children were largely placed with non-Indigenous (typically white) households, as one of the initial purposes of this practise was assimilation.

As a result, many indigenous lost touch with their culture, languages, and traditions. Adoptions took place both within and outside of the province, with some children being taken to the United States, Great Britain, and even Australia and New Zealand. Some children were also sexually, psychologically, and physically abused by their adoptive homes

The Legacy of the 1960s Scoop
In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology to the survivors of the 1960s scoop. The apology was a step in the right direction, but for many survivors it was not enough. They continue to fight for compensation and healing programs to address the lasting effects of this dark chapter in Canadian history.


  • Between 1960 and 1990, the government reported that 11,132 Indigenous children were adopted.
  • Many say that the figure is substantially higher, ranging from 16,000 to 20,000.
  • In 1955, Indigenous families accounted for 1% of children in British Columbia's welfare system. In 1964, that figure had risen to 34%.
  • By the 1970s, Indigenous children accounted for 40-50% of children taken into care by Alberta welfare officials. Manitoba: 50-60%; Saskatchewan: 60-70%.
  • It was discovered in 1981 that 55% of Indigenous welfare children were taken to the United States for adoption.
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