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Eileen Rheindel and her siblings spent eight years in foster care in Prince Albert before being moved to their adoptive parents. The Cook kids: (back) Jacob, Howard and John; (front) Leona, Raymond, Jerry and Joseph. Leona Cook and her siblings were taken from Cumberland House to southern Saskatchewan. She has lived in Prince Albert for the last 16 years. Two survivors of the ’60s Scoop with a strong connection to Prince Albert, shared their thoughts on the formal apology by the government this week.

Premier Scott Moe issued the apology Monday regarding the government’s role in the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes over a plus-two decade period from the 1960s through the 1980s. An estimated 20,000 children across Canada were placed in the foster care of non-Indigenous homes.

“We failed the survivors we heard from in the sharing circles, and so many others. We failed their families. We failed their communities. We failed,” Moe told the crowd gathered in the rotunda of the legislature.

“On behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan, on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan, I stand before you today to apologize; to say sorry,” he said.

Stolen identity

That apology was accepted by Eileen Rheindel who spent eight years in a foster home in Prince Albert with her five siblings.

“I could see the look on his (Moe’s) face and it was pretty powerful for me,” she told paNOW . ”As soon as he said ‘sorry’ there was something in my heart that was so true and genuine I felt the healing, but it’s a process.”

Rheindel was taken from her family in Prince Albert at the age of two and was 10 years old when she and her siblings were taken from foster care to be adopted in the United States. However, that arrangement fell through so the children were once again put in foster care. Rheindel said as a young girl she had no idea about her true identity.

“I didn’t know I was a foster child, I didn’t know I was native, I didn’t know anything,” she said. “As a 10-year-old everything had been taken from me,” she said

She became emotional when asked about how she relates to her own three children who are now in their twenties.

“Because I feel like I had my family stolen from me, family is so important to me,” she said, reflecting.

Rheindel, who now lives in Estevan, ran a child care facility for 17 years before retiring. Her brother is Robert Doucette, the co-chair of the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Saskatchewan,

Apology brings relief for some

Interestingly another ‘60s Scoop survivor also had a career working in child care.

Leona Cook, who has lived in Prince Albert for the last 16 years, was one of seven children – two sisters and five brothers — taken from their family in Cumberland House. They were moved into foster care in southern Saskatchewan. She was in kindergarten when the removal happened.

“I’m glad the apology was made for all the Indigenous peoples,” she told paNOW . “It brings a lot of relief for a lot of us, it helps our healing, helps us forgive one another and helps in being able to move forward and go on living.”Cook said for her the most powerful apology came long before the premier’s. Over 20 years ago, a white social worker who became her friend told her how sorry she was about the way Indigenous children were treated.“She said the words I needed to hear so I could release my own self and let go of the hurt and the pain,” she said.Cook said life has been […]

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