Question: Why do you believe that the government was so interested in aboriginal children?
Dr. Jacqueline Maurice:
“It was both the Federal government and the Provincial government working together, I would definitely say that the Feds as well as the Province saw First Nations communities and families and especially parents as inadequate and unable to parent their own children. Well, I would argue; If you have 100 years of Indian Residential Schools with multiple intergenerational losses and trauma and multiple grief issues, then without a doubt there needed to be an investment of resources to help families to adequately parent their children. But instead I believe the Federal and Provincial governments used that as an excuse to create another policy of assimilation. So then, as we have parents in the 1960’s and 70’s who haven’t been parented themselves and have not grown up with their own family, parents, grandparents and extended family, you have the government coming in to scoop my parents children, myself, and using this created dysfunction as a justification. The Government needs to be the parent. It was definitely the continuation of the policy of assimilation and oppression. We all suffered the loss of culture, language, Identity and our sense of belonging.
Its tragic.. The only reason that I have some knowledge of where I come from is from my own resources. There has been no one that had helped me search out my roots. To know my medical history or next of kin. It takes a lot of inner strength. There has been no Federal or Provincial resource.
My losses are real, what had happened to me, all the abuse over all the foster homes. It feels that I’m left with nothing.
This is why there needs to be an apology and some accountability for the 60’s Scoop, because no child or young adult should have to live without family.”
Nena Lacaille, Executive Director, Enaahitg Healing Lodge:
“In the twelve years that we have run programs hear in Enaatig Healing Lodge, I have to say that the one underlying cause of most of the issues that families are dealing with have to do with self-esteem. And so if we can address the issue of low self-esteem through an awakening of their culture, who they are and their identity this would really help to foster positive self-esteem. This would cut through the other issues that are holding them back from having a good life.”
Steve Beaupre, Aboriginal Liaison, Canadian Mental Health Association:
“For me, I grew up in the 60’s Scoop. Taken at a very early age from my mother. I didn’t know anything of my culture. All I knew was this was my skin colour. I was an Indian. But I didn’t know what that was. So I looked in a grade five history book and it would say that an Indian was a savage. I didn’t want to be a savage. So I didn’t feel good about my self.”
Why do you think there are so many Aboriginal Children in care in British Columbia?
Marie Tonasket – Director Child Welfare (Splatsin) Spallumcheen Indian Band
“In my experience it starts right from the very beginning, from the moment when they meet a social worker. And most typically these workers are non-native, middle class and they don’t share the same values so they see poverty as being a bad thing. And the different levels of poverty they don’t understand. And how a person perceives living in poverty. Because it might just be a way of life so to the family and kids its not a hardship. But for a middle class white person they would see this as unacceptable. Then there is the history of conflict and the lack of trust. So our people don’t necessarily trust social workers. We all remember the history of the 60’s Scoop and how they lost their families there history and their identities.
When I worked for the Ministry I loved being an aboriginal women, going to the door and saying who I was, and then getting let into the house. Having a conversation and talking with them at an equal level. This was huge for me. Many times native families shut down when your typical social worker stops by. They ether become very powerless or very defiant. And if they become defiant, they may hurt the social workers feeling, and then the social worker decides that they definitely need services. Once a social worker decides to dig, well the more you dig the more reasons you can find for having that child in removed into care.
Families are assessed through a Risk Assessment document. And one of the criteria that is reviewed is the history of the parents. In our community the history of our parents is abuse, abuse, trauma, trauma, trauma. And those are things that you have no control over. So the social worker uses this as a negative, rather then setting this aside and recognizing what they have done to overcome these barriers.”
For more on Marie and other front line workers and survivors of the 60′s Scoop and Indian Residential Schools, keep following our Blog.
Chief Bill Montour:
When asked why the Federal Government refuses to allow Adoptees access to their records of birth and adoption history. Chief Bill Montour answers in reference to the “A List” These lists are currently held By the Department of Indian & Northern Affairs Canada in Hull Quebec and have been locked down preventing review even when challenged under the Freedom of Information Act.
In his own words:
“ The Government does a lot of things with a legal analysis. Its called a risk assement. And I think they are afraid that if they open up this A List they could actually be sued by a number of people for being denied their identity or forced into adoptions. Remember the recent Federal apology to Residential School survivors, well that was a very clear policy to interrupt the culture by taking the children away. And I think this A List is an extension of that. They talk about the 60’s Scoop.. How many kids were removed from their families.”
In fact, upwards of three times as many children were affected by Foster Care and Adoptions then those who suffered in Residential Schools.
For more info on the A List feel free to email us.