We Didn’t Become Who We Were Supposed To Be

There’s a call-out right now from the Province of Alberta to Indigenous people who were apprehended by Child Family Services (CFS) during the “60’s Scoop” specified as: “a period of time when an unknown number of Indigenous children were taken from their parents and communities by child intervention services and placed with mostly non-Indigenous families.” The time period is the 1950’s to the early 1990s, but let’s be clear, this counts to even today.

I answered the call and submitted replies to four questions on the online form for those unable to attend six meetings set in Alberta from January 1 to March 1, 2018.

They want to hear, (anonymously if preferred) how you & yours were impacted by your removal; what a meaningful [official] apology looks like; how you feel about apologies; and what you hope will come out of an [official] apology.

Who knows what differences will come from this; there’s been so little change in decades of official government reports on the consequences of colonialism. We’ve yet to see appreciable differences in Child Family Services across Canada, nor in any other Indigenous issue of equity.

I know the opportunity to get on record may not change much, but I fervently hope those of us who get to hear each other’s stories will feel enough understanding to fill a bit of that hole in our hearts. I hope that our combined voices will keep rising until no one can conveniently ignore us again.

I’m sharing part of my replies to Alberta and the Canadian Government as a part of those hopes.  I don’t expect my answers will be much different from others, but this is the point. Our stories began and end in the same ways…

My family lost everything in connection to our relatives. We lost who we were supposed to be. We lost any Cree or Michif language we had, we lost contact with all our relations, we lost our sense of selves & in some cases, permanently.

Because we were six kids in my family, we lost contact with each other when we were split into different homes. In the long run, we irretrievably lost our relationships to each other.

In one round of apprehension, five of us were put together in one home, but it was to be a brief arrangement. One day I was told I would be moving within days and over a 24 hour period, I was made to choose which single sister I could take with me. All four of them stared at me and begged me to choose them. I tell people it was then I knew what it felt like to feel your soul crack. I was twelve yrs old.

Abuses were common in some of those homes. It ranged from the psychological, i.e.  being told our mother was a drunken Indian whore or some variation to physical hitting. We were also warned, without explanation, that it was likely we’d never see our own mother again.

There was not a single time in all those years that anyone thought to ask us how we were feeling. There was no one who would explain what was happening or why. We were picked up and forced into the back of a car and simply driven away with the explanation that it was time to go away for a while. Not even the good homes, where the people were decent and lovely, thought to ask.  No one, it seems was aware of the need, never mind the how, to rout and heal the damages of apprehension & abuses already ingrained.

I ran away from my last foster home when I was 14 yrs. I ran to my mother who was even less prepared for me than before. She’d been broken down to survival level so many times by then, she’d retreated into full-blown alcoholism.

Her life as a single mother escaping from abuse with her babies had been turned into a hell of oppressive orders and judgement by and from the government ostensibly ‘helping’ her. They had a lot of orders for how she was to conduct herself, but not how to protect herself.  She was to blame if her abusive ex-husband found her.  She was to blame if the kitchen sink had dishes in it when a social worker dropped by and claimed neglect. She was to blame for not holding it all together while enduring such enormous psychological threat every minute of her life.  Any infraction would cost her the custody of her children and then did.

My mother managed to turn her life around with a strength of herculean effort and success and decades later she still doesn’t have the family relationships she dreams of, craves and aches for. She doesn’t seem to fully understand that her family brokenness is beyond even her own apologies to fix.

Meaningful apologies? We’ve seen apology after apology for the barbaric practices toward the Indigenous for years, but there is at most a small shuffle in government procedures, mainly re-naming current processes.

Meaningful is the government instituting the recommendations made by Indigenous people. It means replacing “foster care” with more in-home family restoration/counselling services.  Fund those programs directly within communities to restore in-home family & relationship skills, cultural understandings and history. Restore what is being stolen for 150 yrs so far. We see the billions spent on the CFS industry across Canada. We know how much can be replaced back into our communities – where it has always belonged.

I hope all the families who’ve been so torn apart and hurt, so damaged – will find a place to earn some peace.  I hope the reparations of a genuine apology and its processes will provide all the means necessary to get to that place of peace. I hope that we all get something that allows us to pass on good health: mentally, emotionally, and physically to our families for now and all the coming generations.

I hope Canada will finally learn of its every dirty detail of governance hidden under the red and white sleeves of pride and keep teaching about all the wrongs of it.

Never do these things again to Indigenous families, or any families.

That is what a meaningful apology looks like.

RL

Sixties Scoop apology engagement. For survivors of the Sixties Scoop to inform a meaningful apology from the government.  Be forewarned, once you submit your thoughts, you will not be able to enter the site again for any amendments.
ps://www.alberta.ca/sixties-scoop-apology-engagement.aspx  – online submissions
RE: Alberta 60s Scoop class action lawsuit, by Koskie Minsky LLP | Barristers & Solicitors or others. This lawsuit applies only to Status FirstNations  & Inuit .
Non-Status First Nations &  Metis can offer their story for the apology
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About Blog Woman!!!

Once in a while I can rock a thought. I simply believe in what I stand up for. I'd most like people to know that surviving the trials of mountains and monsters is more than resilience - it’s a path to your destiny. On a mostly weekly basis I throw out a grab-bag of facts, ideas or creativity; like a box of chocolates wrapped in ribbons of occasional profanity.... In other words, it's my party I can fun if I want to. So, waddya say, can we talk?
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26 Responses to We Didn’t Become Who We Were Supposed To Be

  1. Petal Hugs says:

    Woah. I cant even imagine growing away from my family and community. It must’ve been very difficult on them. I pray for their healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. calmkate says:

    sorry for your losses, we do the same here in Australia and so few even get the drift of the trauma it cases. Thank you for speaking out, speaking from your heart … healing is tough but you are a living example that it’s possible!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thohahente says:

    I have no words

    Liked by 1 person

  4. koffer2015 says:

    Dear Blog Woman,

    I am so sorry my country forced you experience what it is like “to feel your soul crack” when you were only 12 years old.

    As a settler I apologize to you for the terrible things that were done to you and to your family.

    I apologize that the apprehended, reserved, residentially “schooled” and oppressed Indigenous people of Canada, didn’t become who they were supposed to be.

    I support your call for reparations and a genuine apology.

    Alberta is taking a hopefully positive step.

    Country wide, the harm done to Indigenous people is, so deep and generational, that it seems it requires Canada to provide resources equivalent to a ‘Marshall Plan’.

    A Plan that finally, in a ‘make whole’ commitment, sets out enough resources over time, to fund the healing you call for, to compensate for historic thefts, to ‘Catch Up & Keep Up’ equivalent health care & education and to finally build up transportation, water supply and other infrastructures.

    I think that every Canadian needs to “finally learn” about it’s dark history and as you say “every dirty detail of governance hidden under the red and white sleeves of pride”. And Canada’s schools ought to “keep teaching about all the wrongs of it.”

    Finally, Indigenous people and you are owed a meaningful apology – certainly for apprehensions, residential schools, reservations, cultural genocide, land theft, starvation, and in my opinion, genocide. As one settler citizen, I take my share of responsibility for these.
    I apologize to you.

    I am also deeply sorry that Canadians and Canadian politicians have not done right by you for so terribly long. I take my share of responsibility for that, as well.
    I apologize to you.

    I will oppose racism, racist policies, policy backsliding and policy stalling.
    I will support those who work to change the system in support of Indigenous people.

    Sincerely,
    Klaus Offermann

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Klaus, so much for your detailed listening and understanding. That means a great deal to hear from people who truly see the big picture. Hey, have you thought about applying with the Cdn gov’t and working within to change the system? I think they could really use a guy like you. Outside of that, I just know Minister Carolyn Bennett and PM Trudeau need to hear your words. Hiy hiy.

      Liked by 2 people

      • koffer2015 says:

        Thank you Blog Woman – I appreciate your kind words. I am almost 70 and a lifelong New Democrat. Carolyn Bennett has long been one of the most progressive voices on the Liberal bench. I do not understand some of her disappointing decisions as Minister.

        My words are yours – to share if you wish.

        Cheers,
        Klaus

        PS
        I have been highly critical of the Liberal government and Prime Minister Trudeau on economic and national security issues.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Bill says:

    I and my four siblings were removed from our mother and our culture. I will deal with those involved on my own.

    Like

  6. I am deeply moved. You are courageous to share so much and with such grace. I am wondering about all the losses inflicted and the pain ignored, and I feel grateful to those who sought to protect, giving up way too much, and still failing for no fault of their own. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, as always, Michael for your support and commiseration. Of course you are well acquainted with our various cultural issues and there’s much in your own heart that you speak to beautifully. Thank you also for the mention on your site. I have to check out your next to last as well. Have a wonderful week, my friend.

      Like

  7. Pingback: A Place for Stories | Dreaming the World

  8. Pat says:

    This sounds very similar to what I have heard happened here in the U.S. I have read a lot about the suffering caused to Blacks with slavery, but need to know more to understand the suffering of indigenous people. Thank you for providing me a glimpse of your experience. I know it isn’t easy sharing this type of personal material but you are doing a great service by doing so.

    Like

    • Hi Pat, and yes it’s very much what happened to our relations in the U.S. This continent was all our home, so the border is still an odd idea, but yes what happens in Canada is the same in the U.S. Thanks so much for your thoughts and kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. BYOTP says:

    Hello Beautiful. Sheese! 😉 We can see how long you’ve had to get that heart of a lion, can’t we? Just landing for a hug for you, Lovely, we admire your courage very much. You’re branching out really well and good to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The British Empire has a heck of a lot to answer for, I fear. I apologise for our empire building and colonialism that caused so much hurt to so many people, and I wish I could do something to change things or make amends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lou and you’ve just done so, and you are making changes. Your kindness and willingness to see the wrongs and work to quell any repetition in your day to day is a big part of the reparations. Lovely to see you.

      Like

  11. Pingback: Canadian History Roundup – Weeks of December 17th, 24th, 31st, 2017 and January 7, 2018 | Unwritten Histories

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