Sixties Scoop survivors and supporters gather for a demonstration at a Toronto courthouse in 2016. du Temple’s book covers his experiences as a social worker in the 1960s. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu)

Troubling tales: Peninsula author writes Sixties Scoop memoir

Former social worker Wally du Temple recalls his role in northern B.C.

North Saanich resident Wallace “Wally” du Temple has written Dream Catcher and Reconciliation about his experiences as a social worker during the notorious Sixties Scoop.

During the Sixties Scoop thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their families and adopted or placed in mostly euro-Canadian foster homes.

The term was coined by researcher Patrick Johnston in his 1983 report Native Children and the Child Welfare System.

ALSO READ: Injunctions served to protesting Tsawout members still stand

The government policies that led to the Sixties Scoop were discontinued in the mid-1980s and multiple lawsuits have since followed, including one in B.C. in 2011.

In his book, du Temple explains beginning his career as a social worker in northern B.C.

“I was sent up there and was the only social worker on the Alaksa Highway, 900 miles of gravel road. It’s incredible to think that in the sixties they wanted a social worker to cover all that territory,” he says.

Pretty soon, du Temple found himself at the centre of practices and policies that troubled him.

The first incident, which he says is recalled in the first chapter, concerned a pregnant Indigenous woman who went trapping on familiar ground with her husband. Although the temperatures were low and she had been advised to stay at home, she decided to press on. du Temple says that she had given birth to two of her three children in a nearby log cabin while going about her traditional way of life and thought she could do the same this time. However, after going into labour she suffered complications and lost the baby.

ALSO READ: Sidney LitFest opens a new chapter

“On the basis of that her three children were seized and sent to foster parents in the south. I saw the injustice of that and other cases,” recounts du Temple. “It was based on prejudice, there had been no abuse at all. That’s why I started to make reports.”

du Temple says that with other social workers, most notably Bridget Moran, he tried to blow the whistle to his employer but their appeals fell on deaf ears. With more children being scooped up, he made his criticism of child welfare services public in 1964, including an open letter to B.C.’s Premier W.A.C. Bennett. The result was increased public awareness, but of the social workers who raised their concerns, three were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements and five were fired, including himself and Moran.

The Sixties Scoop was based on the belief that Aboriginal children would have a better life with middle-class, largely white, Canadians but sadly some suffered physical and sexual abuse within a system that had few welfare safeguards.

ALSO READ: Vancouver Island First Nations Youth Ambassadors deliver message to the United Nations

There have been suggestions that part of the problem was social workers didn’t understand Indigenous culture and many thousands of children were taken from loving homes due to their parents’ way of life or poverty.

du Temple says the events changed the course of his life. He went back to school, earned his teaching qualifications and taught Sts’Ailes First Nations students at Harrison Hot Springs and a remote Inuit community in Nunavut.

He ended as principal at a school that was located on the site of the community’s old residential school.

Dream Catcher and Reconciliation can be purchased at Tanner’s Books and friesenpress.com.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First Nations

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Saanich police, pound respond to possible cougar sighting

Cougar possibly seen in area of 4500-block of Chatterton Way

New exhibit at Point Ellice House examines history of waste, water and privilege

Night soil scavengers in the 19th century would collect human waste and dump it around the city

Salish Sea scavenger hunt turns participants into citizen scientists

Public invited to join the Great Salish Sea BioBlitz

Coastal scenes at the forefront for July shows at Victoria galleries

From sculpture to landscape paintings, summer art is about nature

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

Two injured hikers airlifted from North Vancouver Island Park

Campbell River and Comox Search and Rescue hoist team rescued the injured from Cape Scott Provincial Park

Most Read