In Our Own Words: Mapping 60’s Scoop Survivors Diaspora

Amnesty International is partnering with the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network to raise awareness about the Sixties Scoop. We will be advocating for the continued need to connect survivors who were taken with their families and raising awareness about the ongoing human rights fight, the class action lawsuits and the settlement.

From the late 1950’s to the 1980’s, many children were adopted not just out of their Indigenous community, or out of province, but some were sent as far away as Germany, Britain, and Australia. The Provincial, Territorial and Canadian governments gravely violated the rights of these families: to belong to their Indigenous nation, to learn their culture and language, to not be subjected to assimilation, and to not be subjected to genocide.

To learn more about the work being done to reconnect and support families, please read Colleen Hele-Cardinal’s introduction below and look for more information and ways to support the Network of Survivors coming soon. 

My name is Colleen Hele-Cardinal. I am the co-founder of the Sixties Scoop Network formerly known as the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network. I began in 2014 with an idea to visualize our displacements using an interactive online map to show Canadians and the world what the Sixties Scoop looks like for survivors who have been displaced from their traditional homelands and territories.  Thousands of Indigenous children grew up in non-Indigenous households losing their vital connection to their language, ceremonies, kinships, identity and connection to their traditional land.

With collaboration from Dr. Raven Sinclair’s Pe-kīwēwin Project we are excited to announce the launch of In our own Words: Mapping the Stories of 60s Scoop Survivors Diaspora*. This innovative and first of its kind of GIS interactive mapping program is a tool for Sixties Scoop survivors to:

1.  Visualize 60’s Scoop survivors displacements across Canada, U.S and overseas by province and territory.

2. Create a collective platform to share our stories, videos and photos.

3. Set-up a search function with a database for survivors and their families still looking for extended families.

The mapping project is completely voluntary and participatory. Survivors can directly input their own information into the online mapping system which will auto-populate their location of origin to displacement and repatriation if applicable. We recognize that each users experience will be unique. Users will have the option to share as little or as much information about themselves as they want, as well as short videos, pictures and a short narrative about themselves. If survivors choose to locate family members or want to be found, they have the option of uploading a picture, file, short video or details on the person whom they are looking for and/or who may be looking for them with a search function built into the map. Participants will have the option of removing any of their identifying visual data from the platform at any time. However, anonymous statistical data on province/area of child welfare removal, First Nations, Metis, Inuit identity, adopted or not adopted will be kept to inform public knowledge. The Sixties Scoop Network will have access to the platform’s visual data and Sixties Scoop survivor users will have access to their own information.

The scope of this project is international because so many Sixties Scoop survivors were displaced through Canada’s colonial child welfare policies across provinces, borders and overseas. The Sixties Scoop is still a relatively unheard-of phenomenon that took place in the late 1950’s to early 1980’s behind closed doors with Indigenous children being apprehended, relinquished, solicited and transported across provinces, borders and overseas by social workers.  Our goal is to make the map go viral and receive as much user traffic as possible for it to become a visual tool to represent our truths.

The second stage of the map is to disseminate the project through facilitated hands-on teaching workshops in urban cities across Canada, the USA and select cities overseas where we know adoptees were taken and still may live. Our goal is to launch that phase later this year.  This initiative is estimated to cost $50,000

If you have any questions please contact me at For Sixties Scoop survivors, please feel free to reach me at 613 407 7057. 

Colleen Hele-Cardinal

*Diaspora “ does not simply refer to geographical dispersal but also to the vexed questions of identity, memory and home which such displacement produces” (Ashcroft et al 1989, 218).