Premier Rachel Notley gave a public apology to the sixties scoop survivors on May 28.
Adam North Peigan is from Piikani Nation and a former Councilman for the Nation having served in leadership from 2007 – 2011 is also a sixties scoop survivor.
In 1964, Adam North Peigan was born to the late Catherine North Peigan and the late John North Peigan.
Shortly after birth in the 1960’s North Peigan was taken from his home and put into foster care system until he aged out.
This made him a “permanent ward of the Alberta government.”
This was the fate of thousands of Indigenous children who were forcibly removed from their families and placed into non-Indigenous homes away from their communities beginning in the late 1950s well into the ‘80s.
This became commonly known as the “Sixties Scoop.”
North Peigan was one out of “anywhere between 50 – 100” local members who were taken during these years.
More than thirty years later, Premier Rachel Notley gave a public apology in the legislature for the people who were affected by the sixties scoop.
“it’s [was] a once in a life time event, that will never happen again,” he added.
The idea came to him after he watched the federal government publically apologize to the residential school survivors in 2008, and when the former premier of Manitoba Greg Selinger stood up in the legislature and issued an official apology to the survivors in Manitoba in June 2015.
“I watched that  apology at home and it was a very emotional day for me,” North Peigan said.
He added that even though the apology triggered a lot of emotions for him, it also gave him the motivation to have that same thing done for Indigenous people in Alberta.
“It was a dark chapter in Alberta’s history,” he said.
According to North Peigan, there are about 25,000 sixties scoop survivors in Alberta alone and across Canada, the numbers could reach as high as 100,000 people that were taken from their communities.
The long road to reconciliation.
The process wasn’t easy to get the province of Alberta to apologize.
North Peigan said that after a year and a half of “lip service” he had to turn to the Wild Rose party which is now the United Conservative Party (UCP) and told them his personal survival story.
“What they did was they told me they were going to raise the issue in the legislature and open a question period,” North Peigan said.
He adds that the UCP party was going to inform the premier that sixties scoop survivors were demanding an official apology.
This eventually led to an invite for North Peigan and a group of other survivors to sit in the gallery when it was to be raised as an agenda item on Mar. 16, 2017.
“We went to the Alberta legislature and we sat in the gallery when the Indigenous Relation’s critic, his name is Dave Hanson for the UCP, stood up in the house and he introduced the survivors to the government and to all the MLA’s sitting in the house and they gave us a thundering applause,” said North Peigan.
According to North Peigan, following the applause, David Hanson, UCP Critic for Indigenous Relations asked the premier when she is going to apologize for the trauma these survivors endured during the years they were away from their communities.
This led to a commitment for an apology from Premier Rachel Notley and the Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan, which took place on May 28.
“Survivors can never replace what was taken, and I am sorry. We must acknowledge these wrongs and the toll they have taken, and thank survivors for their courage in speaking up.” Said Notley.
According to North Peigan, him and numerous of other survivors met face to face with Minster Feehan and Minister of Children’s Services, Danielle Larivee, to share their experiences.
In January February and March of this year, North Peigan travelled with Feehan and Larviee travelled to six different cities to hear stories, concerns and hopes for the future from the sixties scoop survivors around the province.
Chief Stan Grier said he is very happy with the efforts made by North Peigan and was looking forward to the apology.
After hearing over 1,000 survivors through sharing circles, North Peigan said they started rolling out all the information and captured the common themes mentioned by the survivors and started to formulate that into an apology.
“This was all done in partnership with the Alberta government, myself and the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta (SSISA),” He added.