Pictured above is the art piece Esk’etemc Prayers, an acrylic on canvas by artist Jacinta Sampson depicting her home community of Esk’etemc where a welcoming home ceremony will take place this weekend.

Pictured above is the art piece Esk’etemc Prayers, an acrylic on canvas by artist Jacinta Sampson depicting her home community of Esk’etemc where a welcoming home ceremony will take place this weekend.

Sixties Scoop survivors welcomed home by B.C. Indigenous community

Esk’etemc Chief Fred Robbins says they are expected 300 to 400 people

A Secwepemc community will be marking the Family Day Weekend with a welcoming home celebration for all member children who are in foster care or were adopted out of community as a part of the Sixties Scoop.

“It is going to be a big welcoming home celebration on Feb. 16 and 17,” said Esk’etemc Chief Fred Robbins. “There will be a lot of tears and songs, along with pride in the community.”

The celebration will be the first of its kind at Esk’et in terms of its scale, he added.

“We are expecting 300 to 400 people to attend from outside our community. We are welcoming 13 new babies that were born this year and the previous year because we were unable to do that during the wildfires.

Caregivers and adoptive parents of community members will be honoured as well. Anyone who has cared for Esk’etemc children at any time in their lives will be recognized.

“We’ve invited the Ministry of Children and Family Development to participate and other First Nations groups to witness the celebration because they’d like to do the same thing in their communities and are excited about coming to Esk’et,” Robbins said.

Some children were adopted out from Esk’et during the Sixties Scoop, some going into the U.S.

Read more: Canadian survivors, supporters rally against proposed ’60s Scoop settlement

“We have adult adopted members coming from the U.S. who had no idea they were Esk’etemc due to the Sixties Scoop and as part of the celebration we are welcoming them back to Esk’etemculúcw — which means the territory of the people of the white earth — where their ancestors came from,” Robbins said.

Former Chief Charlene Belleau spearheaded the planning of the celebration, as the event planner after she was successful in securing the funding for such an enormous undertaking.

Robbins said Belleau has taken time out of her busy schedule to lead and engage with community members and invited them to come back to the community.

The idea for the celebration came out of the Stsmémelt (children of the people) Project, a Secwepmc Nation-based child welfare project, working group who are taking the authority and jurisdiction back from the MCFD and working with the Province to manage child welfare services.

“We’d always discussed having the celebration and now that we are taking over the authority of our children that are in care funding was made possible through Charlene’s efforts,” Robbins said.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia the Sixties Scoop was a large scale removal of Indigenous children from their homes, communities and families of birth between 1951 to the 1980s and their subsequent adoption into predominantly non-Indigenous, middle-class families across the U.S. and Canada.

Many of them will be returning home for the first time and Esk’etemc will honour them with traditional gifts, Robbins said.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada indicates that the number of Indigenous children adopted between 1960 and 1990 was 11,132.

However, more recent research suggests upwards of more than 20,000 First Nation, Métis and Inuit children were removed from their homes.

Robbins is a residential school survivor and several years ago co-ordinated the St. Joseph Mission Residential School commemoration project that resulted in the installation of monuments at the former school site and Boitanio Park in Williams Lake.

Through his vision he brought together First Nations, Tribal Councils, local government leaders, school districts, and former students to remember, recover and reconcile.

For his efforts he was recognized with a BC Achievement Award in 2017 and in 2013 was the third person presented the Key to the Cariboo-Chilcotin by the Cariboo Regional District.

He was re-elected as chief in March 2018.

Read more: Robbins returns as chief of Esk’etemc



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after cancellations on Friday due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich police seek suspect after woman nearly robbed while getting out of vehicle

Incident occurred before 7 a.m. Feb. 17 in parking lot off Cordova Bay Road

Saskatoon resident liajah Pidskalny poses with his bike near the University of Victoria after putting on thousands of kilometres to raise awareness of the overdose and mental health crisis. (Courtesy Iliajah Pidskalny)
Saskatoon cyclist winds up mental health and overdose awareness ride in Victoria

Iliajah Pidskalny braves prairie winter conditions to get word out to communities

Gabriel Swift, 23, is one of three Victoria filmmakers chosen to receive $20,000 Telus Storyhive grants to produce Local Heroes documentaries. (Courtesy of Gabriel Swift)
Three Victoria filmmakers producing ‘local heroes’ documentaries with $20,000 grants

Telus Storyhive providing $20,000 to 40 Western Canada productions

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read