How Canada separated indigenous children from the family

Naziya Afrin

Christine and her sister Cleo. These two siblings of indigenous families grew up in different families

long ago. Suddenly, a news appeared that two children changed at birth over 60 years ago in a hospital in Manitoba province, Canada. One of them grew up in the indigenous Meti family of Canada, the other in a Ukrainian immigrant family. As a white woman, Edward Ambros’ sister, who grew up, learns through a home DNA test, her brother Meti family grew up in Richard Bowe. He also learned that Richard and Edward were born in the same hospital the same day. But the part of the story that caught the eye is Richard’s regret. He was raised as an indigenous man to suffer from unprecedented misery. He said about “Sixtease Scoop”.

Sixtease Scoop is the darkest chapter in Canada’s history. It’s a time when the child welfare authorities in government sheltering the indigenous children from their families and encouraged white families to adopt these children. The program was funded by the state and provincial governments from the mid-1950s to the 1980s. At the time, each province of Canada had separate childhood centres and adoption policies. For example, in Saskatchewan province there was ‘Adopt Indian and Meti’ or ‘AIM’ project. Under the project, middle-class white families were widely encouraged to adopt mixed ethnic children. Ads were broadcasted by smiling indigenous children on the newspapers and TV. It was said that there was no one to take care of these children as the birth and divorce of illegal children between the first Nations and the metis. Many times the child welfare authorities claimed these children were not getting the right environment to grow up in their families. Moddaktha, indigenous families do not have the ability to raise children. These children were growing up separated from their family, language, culture and traditions in white family. There was no chance of knowing about his family or culture without the written approval of the feather. Most of the cases after bringing multiple children from the same family, they were sent to different provinces or regions, so as to avoid the involvement as possible.

Provincial Child Welfare Authorities had the ability to withdraw any child from anywhere without parents or family consent. Pulitzer-written Canadian indigenous journalist Kony Walker has long been working with missing and killed indigenous women. In his crime investigative podcast ‘Missing and Murderd: Finding Cleo’, he said in 2018, how social welfare workers took away three children of a mother from a Cree Group in Saskachwan province, then adopted them in a different white family.

Christine was close to Kony Walker to find sister Cleo in accordance with the rate of bureaucratic complications for four decades. His sister had only one picture. Christine said he was raised in a white family where he was raised, how lucky he was. Because he doesn’t have to grow up in an unwhite family. He is taught to hate his roots. In tears, Christine said how he was afraid of his own people, his people, in a big part of his life.

Christine was told that Cleo was adopted into a white family in the United States. He died after escaping from there and being a victim of rape and torture when he returned to Saskachwan. Although it’s not true, real events are not less heartbreaking. Cleure was covered in a New Jersey family. There felt very isolated Cleo, depressed, wanted to return to the family anyway. Teachers told the government that the government had no right to let me go. He committed suicide at the age of 13.

According to Christine, the state had taken indigenous peoples unfit to have children.

But where is the source of this idea? To find that, we need to look at the colonial history of Canada. Before the European settlement, the indigenous Canadians were settled in hundreds of distinct regions of Canada. The mixed ethnic groups that have created new mixed ethnic groups, called the ‘First Nations’, are also known as the Meti which is recognized in the Canadian Constitution. Besides, there is a small anthropologist group called Inuit. In 1876, the Indian Act was passed by the Canadian Parliament, under which all indigenous peoples’ lives were strictly controlled. They had to live in a specific protected area, they were not allowed to leave. The law is believed to be passed to establish the rights of settlers on Canadian natural resources.

According to the Indian Act, indigenous children were sent to various residential educational institutions and children. In nearly the entire 20th century, at least 139 residential educational institutions were operated by the state-owned Catholic, Anglican and United Churches. The Guardian says about 150,000 indigenous children have gone to these schools. Their school has been forced to accept authoritarian faith, not speak in their own language and not practice their own culture. They were victims of oral, physical and sexual abuse and thousands of children died of diseases, neglect and unwantedness. Many at one point choose the way of suicide. Children’s grave was given inside the school boundary after death.

These residential schools were purposefully placed far from indigenous communities so that parents and family members of children could not meet them. Some children had to travel thousands of kilometers.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has testified thousands of hours of indigenous people who have been victims of residential school system. In 2015, the commission named the activities of these residential educational institutions as ‘cultural genocide’. Those who are victims of Sixtease Scoop, have told how they are experiencing mental disasters. They are trying to survive within their own boundaries with the disbelief of the state. The most brutal form of discrimination and divisions they have seen has been done with them in the name of so-called civilization. This unbreakable cycle of authority and power is responsible for keeping the definition of unbreakable humanity.

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