Embarking on a journey of awareness

So many journeys in life are exciting, painful, joyful and rewarding. I have been on one of these journeys of awareness. Putting together my family tree has revealed interesting information about my family and Canadian history.

The family part was easy and exciting. Learning new names, charting dates, finding relatives took a lot of time and sleuthing. I enjoyed the process and both my parents were very talkative. They provided me with names, dates and places. I think they felt connected with me in an exciting way. They are getting on in years, so talking about the past is comforting.

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Two discoveries really surprised me. The first was my father’s Aboriginal heritage. We always knew he had some Aboriginal ‘connection’ but did not know what it was. Through research, we discovered he is member of the Mohawk Nation. Actually, finding dates, names and places to connect this family myth to actual people has been exciting. My mother’s story is disheartening. I discovered she was part of the “Sixties Scoop.” She was orphaned as a child and placed in a foster home.

Both parents knew there was heritage out there but had no connection with it. They did the best they could to care for me. But there was always this void in my life. Both my parents did reconnect with family. The relationships are respectful but distant. I never could figure it out. It was disappointing how I still felt distant when meeting family.

I assumed many people see their cousins, aunts and uncles once a year and still feel connected and belonging. Why did I feel this way? It works so much differently with Aboriginal people I discovered. I also realized it was not an individual issue but a social one. Being a part of the “Sixties Scoop” was strategic.

It was the intention of the government to remove as many Aboriginal children as they could from their homes and place them in other homes, cities, and countries. The disconnect many children from the “Sixties Scoop” feel is common. We have been isolated and neglected. Our culture and language were denied. The opportunity to grow and live in a community with like-minded people was stolen. I was fortunate to have both my parents and a loving home. So many did not. My parents did not. They have shared some information but it is not an easy topic for them. I did some reading to educate myself. It is heartbreaking to read the Truth and Reconciliation Report. It was an ‘aha’ moment of realization.

Then I heard Karen Joseph speak about the TRR. How many Truth and Reconciliations in the world have there been? 10. How many were court mandated? One - Canada. This started a whole new journey of reading and educating myself. Please check these sites out. This is where I started and maybe it will bring more understanding about the “Sixties Scoop” and Residential School injustice:

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/sixties-scoop/

http://reconciliationcanada.ca/resources/impact-stories/

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