Connecting Our Spirits

The Manitoba Indigenous Adoptees Coalition Inc. hosted Connecting Our Spirits: A Gathering for Sixties Scoop Manitoba Indigenous Adoptees and People Placed in Foster Care from July 24 through 26, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the University of Winnipeg (Convocation Hall, 2nd Floor). The gathering was a three-day strategic information and sharing session aimed at understanding the complexities and priorities of Indigenous Child Welfare issues in Manitoba. It engaged approximately 100 Indigenous adoptees and Indigenous people placed in foster care in Manitoba.

Goals

The goals of the Gathering included:

  • Bring together experts to discuss Indigenous Child Welfare issues
  • Create learning, sharing forums and networking opportunities for Manitoba Indigenous adoptees and people placed in care 
  • Provide healing supports and activities for adoptees and foster care participants over the course of the Gathering

Viewed as potentially the first of many such Gatherings in the future, MIAC plans to use what has been learned to assist the planning of future gatherings. In addition, MIAC will use this information to assist in setting direction and activities in development of its five-year strategic plan.

Outcomes

  • Successful hosting of a provincial Indigenous Gathering for Manitoba Indigenous adoptees and people placed in care 
  • Formation of positive relationships with and among Indigenous adoptees and people placed in care
  • Identification of cultural and healing activities geared towards Indigenous adoptees and people placed in care
  • Creation of networks of supports for individuals and new partnerships with outside organizations and other allies
  • A summary report of that includes an evaluation and recommendations to be used to help support future gathering and strategic direction to MIAC

Activities

Symposium: Open to the Public

The first half of the three-day Gathering was a symposium focused on providing participants with presentations on past and current issues related to Indigenous Child Welfare issues in Manitoba and in other parts of the world, including:

  • A presentation and discussion on the relationship between Canadian Residential School and the Sixties Scoop by Keynote Speaker Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
  • A presentation and discussion on what can be learned from the Canadian Human Rights Commission complaint against Canada: failure to provide equitable and culturally based child welfare services to First Nations children on-reserve and how that relates to the 60’s Scoop, by Cindy Blackstock, PhD, Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada
  • An overview of another country’s experience: Australia and the Stolen Generations, which resulted in the report Bringing Them Home, and the National Sorry Day
  • A presentation by the province of Manitoba on its new open birth records related to adoption

The symposium was handled plenary style, and moderated.

 

Sharing Circle: CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC

(Adoptee & Foster Care Delegates ONLY)

To ensure the safety of participants, the second half of the three-day Gathering was open to Indigenous adoptees and people placed in care only. It featured facilitated discussions and a sharing circle, including breakout sessions on next steps. 

The breakout sessions were based on the number of participants and facilitators available. Participants were led through a facilitated process to seek their input on the topics and issues discussed at the Symposium.