Healing the Family Within session participants Julia Brandon (left), Alice Rose Clearsky and Linda Clearsky at the Mahkaday Ginew Memorial Centre Friday. CHELSEA KEMP/THE BRANDON SUN
By Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Survivors of the ’60s Scoop gathered Friday for a Healing the Family Within session meant to navigate the difficult balance of accessing Indigenous and Western perspectives on life.
Cultural support worker Deborah Tacan facilitated the teachings designed to help ’60s Scoop Survivors, family members and service providers heal and better understand the experience at the Mahkaday Ginew Memorial Centre.
During the period known as the ’60s Scoop it is estimated between 20,000 and 40,000 First Nation, Métis and Inuit children were removed from their families and communities and adopted out into non-Indigenous households. The forced adoptions spread survivors across the world including Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the United States along with Canada.
Survivors need validation, Tacan said — validation of the hurt, losses and grief they experienced, along with recognition of the strengths and wisdom they still carry.
“We see the trauma, it is there — but we also have been given those tools, those teaching are still there those teachings are alive in us,” Tacan said. “It’s part of our history.”
Tacan was amazed at the knowledge people had to share during the session and the insights they provided when interpreting teachings. One of the more exciting experiences was unpacking how you show someone you love them.
“We weren’t shown that. We weren’t shown how to love somebody,” Tacan said. “They [participants] showed us how to love somebody — be there, show up, be honest, be truthful, be kind, be loving. The knowledge is there sometimes we just need to validate that.”
One of the most important topics covered was the perspective of “two-eyed seeing,” a concept Tacan described as looking through an Indigenous and Western lens and bringing the experiences together.
“We’re finding our commonality and we’re learning that we’re all inter-related and inter-connected,” Tacan said. “We’re not separate from each other and two-eyed seeing brings us to that place where we are interconnected.”
’60s Scoop survivors have grown up in the Western system and this has influenced how they experience the world, which can be good, Tacan said, but they can find balance with Indigenous experiences and identity.
Two-eyed seeing offers an opportunity for survivors to better understand where they fit in their communities and society.
Tacan also covered the experience of kinship ties and how these have been affected or lost as a result of the ’60s Scoop, residential schools and colonization. A focus of her talk was how to learn and regrown these connections.
Part of rebuilding connections that have been lost included sharing the teachings of the teepee — the foundation for the family.
“It’s a teaching about where we first learn is in our home,” Tacan said. “There’s 15 poles on the teepee and we did every teaching — but, the people here did the teaching … they gathered their knowledge and they realized, ‘hey, I know all of this stuff.’”
It was a profound experience to share because she could feel the healing and connections forming within the group.
There is a need for survivors to walk the path of feelings so they can better understand and recover from the effects of the ’60s Scoop, Tacan said, and this can be done using cultural language, teachings and knowledge.
Waywayseecappo First Nation member and ’60s Scoop survivor Julia Brandon, 65, attended the session with her Auntie Alice Rose Clearsky.
As a survivor of the ’60s Scoop, Brandon said, she is working to learn more about her culture including beadwork, relearning the language she once knew and reclaiming her traditions and identity.
Brandon grew up in the Wheat City after being placed in The Maples Orphanage in the late 60s. She is still healing from her forced removal from her family.
“I don’t call it a survivor because I’m still learning how to live with all those pains and traumas I’ve been through. I’m still healing,” Brandon said.
She was taken from her parents’ home in Waywayseecappo and has struggled to rebuild kinship ties ever since. Brandon said she has eventually able to find others and develop new kinship ties — this made the teachings of “All my relations shared” during the sessions, especially meaningful.
For many survivors, family kinship was damaged by the ’60s Scoop, she explained, because while Brandon has family in the nation there is not always a feeling of kinship due to her time of being removed from the community.
“We’re all disconnected in our own way,” Brandon said.
She attended the session to be part of the healing circle.
“I’m connecting with the hurt where it has been by coming here. It’s part of the healing process for me because I’ll never stop healing until I leave [this earth],” Brandon said.
It was powerful connecting with others who have been on a similar experience living with the trauma of the ’60s Scoop and working towards healing.
Establishing these connections between nation members in the community and others have been difficult to achieve due to years of separation. They have physical connections that include economic and housing, Brandon said, but survivors are missing the spiritual and social connections.
There is a critical need for events like Healing the Family Within because it allows the community to connect, share their experiences and pass on different teachings.
Linda Clearsky attended the session with her mom Alice Rose Clearsky, a day school and residential school survivor. Linda Clearsky was placed in the Maples Orphanage.
The experience of being removed left Clearsky feeling like there was nowhere she truly fit in — she lost connections to her culture that she has had to work to regain.
“I’m learning to, what has happened because nobody talks about it,” she said. “It’s about time.”
She was honoured to attend the session and has found the experience to be healing for her and her family because they have been able to sit and connect.
It is time to talk and start healing, she said, and this can expose feelings of mistrust many survivors experience after growing up with so much uncertainty and isolation.
It is difficult to gain and relearn how to trust, she added, but it is an important step in breaking the cycle of trauma created by the ’60s Scoop.
“This is a start,” Clearsky said.
The next Healing the Family Within Session will take place at the end of March and will focus on traditional parenting.
This item is reprinted with permission from Brandon Sun, Brandon, Manitoba. See article HERE.
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