Stolen Generation

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Image: The Indian Residential School hockey team of Maliotenam, Quebec, circa 1950 (Library and Archives Canada; Flickr.com/The Commons/)

 

Austalia’s national broadcaster ABC news on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the parallels to the experiences of Aboriginal peoples in Australia during the Stolen Generation.

Posted by Touchstones of Hope on Monday, January 4, 2016

 

***The new anthology Stolen Generation I’m helping to edit is underway, focusing on writings of First Nations adoptees in North American… Trace

 

At Yale in Connecticut:january 27

2016: Time to Rev Up

By Lara Trace

It’s good to be home and I’m revved up to resume a weekly schedule of blog posts. (I missed you guys [I really did] but I was reading your inspiring bad-ass blogs!) (for some weird reason I stopped getting email notice of your new posts – um, still working to fix that.)

I do hope you all made good memories this past month or so…

We traveled to Philadelphia PA twice and had a great time babysitting our youngest grandgirl (she’s a one-year-old) and of course we watched Sesame Street. We didn’t have many shows when I was a tiny kid like her, other than Captain Kanagroo. Remember him?

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Each week I may give you some of what I have been reading and these stories are truly worth a read!

Method Homes home design CREDIT Method Homes

Melissa’s story – Make It Right. It’s a Brad Pitt Project and it’s REALLY GOOD!

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How the Federal Government Continues To Victimize American Indians (no big surprise!)

…”Upfront I will stipulate that the treatment of the American Indian by the federal government has been nothing less than an egregious nightmare. It is a case study in progressive paternalism that has enriched a small coterie of privileged contractors, provided a bevy of bureaucrats with job security and self-importance, and reduced the American Indian population still living on reservations to a dystopic and nightmarish existence.

The Indian schools, at least in some areas, face challenges most public schools don’t face.  The Indian bureaucracy, BIA and BIE represent the very worst impulses of government: big, unwieldy, unresponsive to citizens, slavish to big contractors and the powerful, uncaring, and casually cruel. Where the BIA merely steals from today, the BIE steals the future. It is a national shame that this situation is allowed to persist.”

READ

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Aging out of Foster Care:

Photographer Aaron Fallon shared an idea with seven other professional photographers in Los Angeles. Together, the group collaborated while donating their efforts to a three-year project that will move and inspire you. In today’s Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US “Let Love Define Family®” series installment, RaiseAChild. US founder and CEO Rich Valenza interviews the group that now calls themselves the Image Hoarders about their recently published book called “Aging Out.”  READ

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1976: Government admits forced sterilization of Indian Women

A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office finds that 4 of the 12 Indian Health Service regions sterilized 3,406 American Indian women without their permission between 1973 and 1976.  The GAO finds that 36 women under age 21 had been forcibly sterilized during this period despite a court-ordered moratorium on sterilizations of women younger than 21.  Two years earlier, an independent study by Dr. Connie Pinkerton-Uri, Choctaw/Cherokee, found that one in four American Indian women had been sterilized without her consent.  Pinkerton-Uri’s research indicated that the Indian Health Service had “singled out full-blooded Indian women for sterilization procedures.” SOURCE

and watch this horror story :

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sheepRacism, Class and Adoption

An Oldie but Goodie from my friend (who I call a Thought Leader on Adoption) :

“…The mother in question has published her own book, which promotes itself as a “guidebook” for white adoptive parents of black children. Whatever her intentions, wherever her heart may lie, this should, in and of itself, set off a million alarms.” via Racism, Class and Adoption.

“…For starters is the myth that adoptive parents have some kind of unique agency and free will outside of the society in which they acculturate the children temporarily in their care. By this I mean to say that adoption, as an institution born of and reflecting its roots in indentured servitude, racism, and class warfare, does not suddenly “shift” into a tragedy based on the adoptive parent’s “awakening”. It is a tragedy, and a criminal one at that, from the start…”

“Something much more sinister is transpiring, and this shows up how unequal our words are when spoken on corporate-sponsored platforms equally bent on painting a Happy Gotcha Day for all involved…”

The “adopter narrative” is morphing and adapting in order to silence us; it is stealing the power of our words and the weight of our tropes in order to render us harmless and pointless…

(the power of propaganda is immense when it comes to the trafficking of children for profit…)

READ HIS ESSAY: The New Adopter Narrative: https://danielibnzayd.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/on-the-new-adopter-narratives/

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pass-system-card-1Another Dark Secret: The Pass System

Filmmaker Alex Williams decided to dig into this dark chapter in Canadian history for his first documentary, The Pass System.

Williams said the pass system came into effect after the North-West Rebellion in 1885.

“It was an illegal… system that was put in place as a temporary ‘security measure’ after the events of 1885 that stuck around for over 60 years,” he said.

“Its intent was, in the words of one historian, to keep [Indigenous] people out of the towns and cities.”

READ The pass system: another dark secret in Canadian history | Warrior Publications.

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AMAZING FIND!

Dr. Amy Helen Bell:  Recently my excellent colleague Tom Peace and I found out that among these rich sources are dozens of rare prayer and hymn books in Indigenous languages, written and used by both European and Indigenous scholars, missionaries and priests. The Diocese Archives also holds personnel files on six Indigenous men who graduated from the Theological College in the nineteenth-century and went on to work in churches and parishes in both indigenous and settler communities. And exposing the darker side of the Christianizing mission, the archive also holds some records of the Mohawk Institute, a residential school run by the Anglican Church in nearby Brantford. Along with hundreds of other punitive institutions, the school sought to assimilate Aboriginal children into Euro-Canadian culture in a process the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has described as “cultural genocide.” And nobody at Huron has ever looked at these sources.

Source: Rare Books and Reconciliation – Dr Amy Helen Bell

 

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favorite words?The MIX e-magazine is up and running for its second year.  Go take a read!  Send us some writing on your mixed ancestry and ethnicity! Carol Hand and I are expecting more writers in 2016… The topic is timely and important – we are all related – really truly we are –  INFO

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And if you missed this post, it’s one of my MOST popular – about HEALING HERE – it doesn’t surprise me we ALL want healing in this crazy world!

I am working on a brand new anthology STOLEN GENERATIONS with first person narratives of First Nations and American Indian adoptees in 2016 – should be out in April 2016. It’s the fourth book in this series on Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects and I am so excited to have many new adoptees in this book!

I’ll be back with MORE of everything soon … Happy New Year! xoxoxoxoxox

[I have a page on Facebook – posts will be here]

 

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Soul Wound: The Legacy of Native American Schools

Soul Wound

The Legacy of Native American Schools

U.S. and Canadian authorities took Native children from their homes and tried to school, and sometimes beat, the Indian out them. Now Native Americans are fighting the theft of language, of culture, and of childhood itself.

By Andrea Smith

A little while ago, I was supposed to attend a Halloween party. I decided to dress as a nun because nuns were the scariest things I ever saw,” says Willetta Dolphus, 54, a Cheyenne River Lakota. The source of her fear, still vivid decades later, was her childhood experience at American Indian boarding schools in South Dakota.

Boys pray before bedtime with Father Keyes, St. Mary’s Mission School, Omak. © Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane, WA

Dolphus is one of more than 100,000 Native Americans forced by the U.S. government to attend Christian schools. The system, which began with President Ulysses Grant’s 1869 “Peace Policy,” continued well into the 20th century. Church officials, missionaries, and local authorities took children as young as five from their parents and shipped them off to Christian boarding schools; they forced others to enroll in Christian day schools on reservations. Those sent to boarding school were separated from their families for most of the year, sometimes without a single family visit. Parents caught trying to hide their children lost food rations.

Virtually imprisoned in the schools, children experienced a devastating litany of abuses, from forced assimilation and grueling labor to widespread sexual and physical abuse. Scholars and activists have only begun to analyze what Joseph Gone (Gros Ventre), a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, calls “the cumulative effects of these historical experiences across gender and generation upon tribal communities today.”

“Native America knows all too well the reality of the boarding schools,” writes Native American Bar Association President Richard Monette, who attended a North Dakota boarding school, “where recent generations learned the fine art of standing in line single-file for hours without moving a hair, as a lesson in discipline; where our best and brightest earned graduation certificates for homemaking and masonry; where the sharp rules of immaculate living were instilled through blistered hands and knees on the floor with scouring toothbrushes; where mouths were scrubbed with lye and chlorine solutions for uttering Native words.”

Sammy Toineeta (Lakota) helped found the national Boarding School Healing Project to document such abuses. “Human rights activists must talk about the issue of boarding schools,” says Toineeta. “It is one of the grossest human rights violations because it targeted children and was the tool for perpetrating cultural genocide. To ignore this issue would be to ignore the human rights of indigenous peoples, not only in the U.S., but around the world.”

The schools were part of Euro-America’s drive to solve the “Indian problem” and end Native control of their lands. While some colonizers advocated outright physical extermination, Captain Richard H. Pratt thought it wiser to “Kill the Indian and save the man.” In 1879 Pratt, an army veteran of the Indian wars, opened the first federally sanctioned boarding school: the Carlisle Industrial Training School, in Carlisle, Penn.

“Transfer the savage-born infant to the surroundings of civilization, and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit,” said Pratt. He modeled Carlisle on a prison school he had developed for a group of 72 Indian prisoners of war at Florida’s Fort Marion prison. His philosophy was to “elevate” American Indians to white standards through a process of forced acculturation that stripped them of their language, culture, and customs.

Government officials found the Carlisle model an appealing alternative to the costly military campaigns against Indians in the West. Within three decades of Carlisle’s opening, nearly 500 schools extended all the way to California. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) controlled 25 off-reservation boarding schools while churches ran 460 boarding and day schools on reservations with government funds.

Both BIA and church schools ran on bare-bones budgets, and large numbers of students died from starvation and disease because of inadequate food and medical care. School officials routinely forced children to do arduous work to raise money for staff salaries and “leased out” students during the summers to farm or work as domestics for white families. In addition to bringing in income, the hard labor prepared children to take their place in white society — the only one open to them — on the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder.

Physical hardship, however, was merely the backdrop to a systematic assault on Native culture. School staff sheared children’s hair, banned traditional clothing and customs, and forced children to worship as Christians. Eliminating Native languages — considered an obstacle to the “acculturation” process — was a top priority, and teachers devised an extensive repertoire of punishments for uncooperative children. “I was forced to eat an entire bar of soap for speaking my language,” says AIUSA activist Byron Wesley (Navajo).

The loss of language cut deep into the heart of the Native community. Recent efforts to restore Native languages hint at what was lost. Mona Recountre, of the South Dakota Crow Creek reservation, says that when her reservation began a Native language immersion program at its elementary school, social relationships within the school changed radically and teachers saw a decline in disciplinary problems. Recountre’s explanation is that the Dakota language creates community and respect by emphasizing kinship and relationships. The children now call their teachers “uncle” or “auntie” and “don’t think of them as authority figures,” says Recountre. “It’s a form of respect, and it’s a form of acknowledgment.”

Native scholars describe the destruction of their culture as a “soul wound,” from which Native Americans have not healed. Embedded deep within that wound is a pattern of sexual and physical abuse that began in the early years of the boarding school system. Joseph Gone describes a history of “unmonitored and unchecked physical and sexual aggression perpetrated by school officials against a vulnerable and institutionalized population.” Gone is one of many scholars contributing research to the Boarding School Healing Project.

Rampant sexual abuse at reservation schools continued until the end of the 1980s, in part because of pre-1990 loopholes in state and federal law mandating the reporting of allegations of child sexual abuse. In 1987 the FBI found evidence that John Boone, a teacher at the BIA-run Hopi day school in Arizona, had sexually abused as many as 142 boys from 1979 until his arrest in 1987. The principal failed to investigate a single abuse allegation. Boone, one of several BIA schoolteachers caught molesting children on reservations in the late 1980s, was convicted of child abuse, and he received a life sentence. Acting BIA chief William Ragsdale admitted that the agency had not been sufficiently responsive to allegations of sexual abuse, and he apologized to the Hopi tribe and others whose children BIA employees had abused.

The effects of the widespread sexual abuse in the schools continue to ricochet through Native communities today. “We know that experiences of such violence are clearly correlated with posttraumatic reactions including social and psychological disruptions and breakdowns,” says Gone.

Dolphus, now director of the South Dakota Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, sees boarding school policies as the central route through which sexual abuse became entrenched in Native communities, as many victims became molesters themselves. Hopi tribe members testified at a 1989 Senate hearing that some of Boone’s victims had become sex abusers; others had become suicidal or alcoholic.

The abuse has dealt repeated blows to the traditional social structure of Indian communities. Before colonization, Native women generally enjoyed high status, according to scholars, and violence against women, children, and elders was virtually non-existent. Today, sexual abuse and violence have reached epidemic proportions in Native communities, along with alcoholism and suicide. By the end of the 1990s, the sexual assault rate among Native Americans was three-and-a-half times higher than for any other ethnic group in the U.S., according to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Alcoholism in Native communities is currently six times higher than the national average. Researchers are just beginning to establish quantitative links between these epidemic rates and the legacy of boarding schools.

A more complete history of the abuses endured by Native American children exists in the accounts of survivors of Canadian “residential schools.” Canada imported the U.S. boarding school model in the 1880s and maintained it well into the 1970s — four decades after the United States ended its stated policy of forced enrollment. Abuses in Canadian schools are much better documented because survivors of Canadian schools are more numerous, younger, and generally more willing to talk about their experiences.

A 2001 report by the Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada documents the responsibility of the Roman Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the federal government in the deaths of more than 50,000 Native children in the Canadian residential school system. (SERIAL KILLERS? I think these church officials were and should have been indicted… Trace)

The report says church officials killed children by beating, poisoning, electric shock, starvation, prolonged exposure to sub-zero cold while naked, and medical experimentation, including the removal of organs and radiation exposure. In 1928 Alberta passed legislation allowing school officials to forcibly sterilize Native girls; British Columbia followed suit in 1933. There is no accurate toll of forced sterilizations because hospital staff destroyed records in 1995 after police launched an investigation. But according to the testimony of a nurse in Alberta, doctors sterilized entire groups of Native children when they reached puberty. The report also says that Canadian clergy, police, and business and government officials “rented out” children from residential schools to pedophile rings.

The consequences of sexual abuse can be devastating. “Of the first 29 men who publicly disclosed sexual abuse in Canadian residential schools, 22 committed suicide,” says Gerry Oleman, a counselor to residential school survivors in British Columbia.

Randy Fred (Tsehaht First Nation), a 47-year-old survivor, told the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, “We were kids when we were raped and victimized. All the plaintiffs I’ve talked with have attempted suicide. I attempted suicide twice, when I was 19 and again when I was 20. We all suffered from alcohol abuse, drug abuse. Looking at the lists of students [abused in the school], at least half the guys are dead.”

The Truth Commission report says that the grounds of several schools contain unmarked graveyards of murdered school children, including babies born to Native girls raped by priests and other church officials in the school. Thousands of survivors and relatives have filed lawsuits against Canadian churches and governments since the 1990s, with the costs of settlements estimated at more than $1 billion. Many cases are still working their way through the court system.

While some Canadian churches have launched reconciliation programs, U.S. churches have been largely silent. Natives of this country have also been less aggressive in pursuing lawsuits. Attorney Tonya Gonnella-Frichner (Onondaga) says that the combination of statutes of limitations, lack of documentation, and the conservative makeup of the current U.S. Supreme Court make lawsuits a difficult and risky strategy.

Nonetheless, six members of the Sioux Nation who say they were physically and sexually abused in government-run boarding schools filed a class-action lawsuit this April against the United States for $25 billion on behalf of hundreds of thousands of mistreated Native Americans. Sherwyn Zephier was a student at a school run from 1948 to 1975 by St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Marty, S.D.: “I was tortured in the middle of the night. They would whip us with boards and sometimes with straps,” he recalled in Los Angeles at an April press conference to launch the suit.

Adele Zephier, Sherwyn’s sister, said, “I was molested there by a priest and watched other girls” and then broke down crying. Lawyers have interviewed nearly 1,000 alleged victims in South Dakota alone.

Native activists within church denominations are also pushing for resolutions that address boarding school abuses. This July the first such resolution will go before the United Church of Christ, demanding that the church begin a process of reconciliation with Native communities. Activists also point out that while the mass abductions ended with the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), doctors, lawyers, and social workers were still removing thousands of children from their families well into the 1970s. Even today, “Indian parents continue to consent to adoptions after being persuaded by ‘professionals’ who promise that their child will fare better in a white, middle-class family,” according to a report by Lisa Poupart for the Crime and Social Justice Associates.

Although there is disagreement in Native communities about how to approach the past, most agree that the first step is documentation. It is crucial that this history be exposed, says Dolphus. “When the elders who were abused in these schools have the chance to heal, then the younger generation will begin to heal too.”

Members of the Boarding School Healing Project say that current levels of violence and dysfunction in Native communities result from human rights abuses perpetrated by state policy. In addition to setting up hotlines and healing services for survivors, this broad coalition is using a human rights framework to demand accountability from Washington and churches.

While this project is Herculean in its scope, its success could be critical to the healing of indigenous nations from both contemporary and historical human rights abuses. Native communities, the project’s founders hope, will begin to view the abuse as the consequence of human rights violations perpetrated by church and state rather than as an issue of community dysfunction and individual failings.

And for individuals, overcoming the silence and the stigma of abuse in Native communities can lead to breakthroughs: “There was an experience that caused me to be damaged,” said boarding school survivor Sammy Toineeta. “I finally realized that there wasn’t something wrong with me.”

SOURCE

Andrea Smith (Cherokee) is interim coordinator for the Boarding School Healing Project and a Bunche Fellow coordinating AIUSA’s research project on Sexual Violence and American Indian women.

A Deafening Silence On Aboriginal Issues #TRC

Over the weekend, author and university administrator Wab Kinew, Rwandan genocide survivor Eloge Butera, Broadbent Institute director Jonathan Sas and 19 honorary witnesses to the TRC issued a call to action, urging Canadians to “make reconciliation an election issue.” Kinew told Maclean’s he remembers NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau “immediately in front of news cameras” after the tabling of the TRC report. “When it was politically expedient to jump on the stories of my father, of our ancestors, I remember them being there.”

“At this late stage, it will certainly be difficult to insert reconciliation into the conversation,” says Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “Time’s a-wasting; and the opportunity has almost passed.

“The reality is the federal government has been largely responsible for causing this harm, and the chaos that results lies in their lap. And to a certain extent, they are a bit confused—looking for direction, continuing to dither while they try to gauge the public appetite.”

KEEP READING: A Deafening Silence On Aboriginal Issues

They came for the children @TRC #TC4TC

 

 


Ottawa forced to turn over reports of electric chair use at St. Anne’s residential school

Jordan Chittley

Jordan Chittley, CTVNews.ca Writer, @jchittley

January 15, 2014  

For the past year and a half, lawyer Fay Brunning has been fighting to get the federal government to hand over documents about the St. Anne’s residential school.

It’s a school that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a judge described as having the worst cases of abuse out of any residential school in Canada. Brunning, who represents survivors, says they were taken away from their parents at age five or six for 10 months a year. They were forced to eat vomit, subjected to sexual and physical abuse and put in an electric chair.

“The little ones first,” recalls Edmund Metatawabin to the Wawatay News in July. “And I was, I think, about number seven or eight, meaning I was one of the smaller ones.”

The children sat on a wooden seat with their arms strapped to a metal chair. A Brother held a wooden box with a crank ready to send the electric charge.

“Your feet is flying around in front of you, and that was funny for the missionaries,” Metatawabin says. “So all you hear is that jolt of electricity and your reaction, and laughter (of the Catholic school administrators) at the same time. We all took turns sitting on it.”

An Ontario judge recently ruled the federal government must turn over the documents, meaning adjudicators in the future will have the documents when making decisions in compensation claims under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Act. Survivors will no longer have to prove the level of abuse in each case.

“They are very relieved the justice system has worked,” says Brunning about survivors she spoke to today. “They want to believe the apology meant something.”

Brunning says because of the residential schools, survivors are still afraid of authority. For many, they are marginalized individuals and often find themselves on the wrong side of the law. “If law can work in their favour, that is probably a first.”

Here is an interview with a survivor:

St. Anne’s is in Fort Albany in northern Ontario. It was open from 1904 to 1976 and had hundreds of aboriginal children from remote James Bay communities walk through its doors. A police probe from the 1990s turned up evidence of horrific abuse, including an electric chair. A government had said Ottawa received the documents from police on an undertaking they would not be passed on to anyone. Ontario Superior Court Judge Paul Perell says the government misinterpreted its obligations and should turn over the more than 7,000 records to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The reports must also be turned over to the Independent Assessment Process, an out-of-court process for the resolution of claims of abuses suffered at residential schools.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt told Kevin Newman Live in an email the government is “pleased that the court clarified we can now disclose St. Anne’s residential school documents, and, now that we have the court’s permission, we will do so.” His office declined to answer any follow-up questions.

“(This is) a huge victory for the survivors of St. Anne’s and a complete repudiation of the Conservative government who have undermined the rights of these victims again and again,” says New Democrat MP Charlie Angus to CP.

“I feel ashamed. I grew up in northern Saskatchewan and didn’t know this was going on,” Brunning says. “I went to law school because I like to help people and this is really rewarding work.”

After a year and a half and more than $250,000 spent from Brunning’s law firm Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, she is very relieved at the decision and will keep fighting for survivors.

“How do you give people back their lives,” she says. “We have to come to grips with our past.”

Torn from their mothers’ arms #HumanTrafficking

adoptee rightsPOUND PUP LEGACY |  Submitted by Kerry on Wed, 2015-03-25

See also:

It’s a tale of terrible heartbreak Britain’s tried to forget: Hundreds of thousands of mothers forced to give up their babies because they weren’t married. Now they want justice

By Frances Hardy/ The Daily Mail
24 March 2015

The legacy of loss and yearning has persisted — intractable and insistent — like a physical pain throughout Lorna Read’s adult life.

A day has not passed when she did not think of the daughter, her perfect baby with the white-blonde hair, she was forced to give up for adoption.

On a spring day in April 1969, when the child she had called Rowan was six weeks old, Lorna signed away her right to motherhood.

She did so for the simple reason — unimaginable today — that she was a single mother, having become pregnant to an art lecturer 11 years her senior when she was 23.

‘I can still summon up a picture of my last sight of her: a forlorn little baby with huge blue eyes, wrapped in a blanket.

‘I’d been told by nuns in the maternity home where I gave birth not to form a bond, not to breastfeed, not to love her. But, of course, I did love her and it was absolute torture to try to ignore her. I walked to the bus stop the day I left her, and sobbed. And ever since I have felt empty, as if a part of me is missing.

‘When Rowan was eight months old, her adoptive parents sent me, anonymously, a lovely photo of her. It’s the one possession I would have gone into a blazing house to save.

‘I thought of her every day. I had lots of short-lived relationships with men, but it was as if I couldn’t love anyone else until I’d found her again. And I couldn’t contemplate having another baby. It would almost have felt like being unfaithful to her.

‘Every day on her birthday, I’d light a candle for her and cry. It was the only day I allowed myself to cry because I knew if I didn’t hold back I’d open the floodgates and never stop.’

Lorna, 69, an author and literary consultant from West London, remains single and has never had another child.

Educated and articulate, she is one of an estimated half a million unmarried mothers in the UK who, between the Fifties and Eighties, were marginalised by ‘respectable’ society determined to stigmatise illegitimacy.

Denied access to housing, and bullied by parents, religious groups or social workers, these women were forced to give up their babies for adoption — for the sole reason that they were single parents.

Too often, they were not given information about housing and financial help to which they were entitled. There was no question of these women being found to be unfit mothers; they were simply prevented from becoming mothers at all.

For four decades, Lorna carried the burden of her loss silently and stoically. But now she has joined a growing band of women who, because of that stigma once attached to illegitimacy, are seeking a Government apology for the forced adoptions.

The Movement for an Adoption Apology (MAA) was co-founded by Veronica Smith, 74, a retired nursing manager, in 2010 after the then Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a formal expression of regret for the ‘shameful’ treatment of unmarried mothers in Australia in decades gone by.

The MAA knows that similarly punitive policies were being pursued in Britain at the same time, and continues to campaign vigorously for more signatories to its petition.

Veronica says she was ‘coerced, cajoled and cornered’ into having her own baby daughter taken away within a week of her birth in March 1965.

She argues that an apology would help to atone for the trauma and grief she and other unmarried mothers have endured throughout their lives.

The shame of illegitimacy was acute, even in the so-called Swinging Sixties; so much so that Veronica’s devoutly Catholic father, a Lieutenant-Colonel, never knew about her child.

‘My elder sister and mother told me: “Daddy must never know about this. The disgrace would kill him,” ’ recalls Veronica. ‘I honestly felt if I’d murdered someone it might have been more acceptable.

‘I’d committed a mortal sin and in the eyes of the Catholic Church I’d never go to heaven.’

Veronica was a nurse at Butlin’s holiday camp in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, when, aged 24, she accidentally became pregnant during a short-lived relationship with Sam, a Red Coat. ‘I went to a GP and he said all he could offer me to try to end the pregnancy was a douche, then he told me to have a hot bath and drink gin. It didn’t work,’ she recalls.

‘I wrote to my elder sister. A letter came back, saying: “Don’t worry. It’s sorted.” And I remember the train journey to Victoria. I was crying, scared. I had no idea what would happen.’

Veronica’s sister had booked her into a Catholic hostel in Tulse Hill, South London. An austere corrective institution, it was not unlike the convent laundry depicted in Philomena, the 2013 film which told the true story of a young Catholic woman forced to give her child up for adoption in Fifties Ireland. Veronica scrubbed floors as a penance for her sins.

Like all the other unmarried mothers at the hostel, she had to knit a layette — bootees, a hat, leggings and a matinee jacket — for the baby she would hand over to strangers.

Veronica remembers, too, clandestine meetings with her mother and the fabrication of a story for her father’s sake that she was ‘working abroad’.

‘My mother used to meet me every fortnight or so at Wimbledon station, and she’d bring airmail paper so we could concoct a letter for my father about my job overseas,’ she says.

Veronica’s daughter was born at a private maternity hospital in Guildford, Surrey, on March 2, 1965. She has one poignant memory of her baby.

‘I called her Angela because she looked like an angel in a painting,’ she says. She was even given a drug to stop her breast milk.

‘It’s totally unnatural to carry a child for nine months then to have it taken away. It’s not what we’re put on Earth to do,’ she says.

‘Yet it was assumed we’d have our babies adopted. We weren’t told about the resources, the housing or benefits that were available to us.

‘My parents had a six-bedroom house in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, but I knew absolutely that it would be fruitless to ask to live with them. My baby was fostered, then adopted and I was told to go home and forget about her.

‘So I shut it out completely. My life was stolen, really. I didn’t have any proper relationships and put all my energies into work as a nurse.’

Veronica, who is serene, capable and softly spoken, quietly bore the weight of her unresolved sorrow for almost three decades.

Her father had died without knowing her secret, and the pressure her mother had exerted on her to give her child away caused a rift that was not healed. Then in 1990 — childless and unmarried — Veronica faced the menopause and had a breakdown.

‘Perhaps it was because it was the end of my fertility, but something seemed to unlock in my head and all my grief came tumbling out,’ she says.

‘I fell apart. I couldn’t stop crying. I went to my boss and sat in her office blubbing. It all came out about my daughter; the first time I’d ever spoken about her other than to one close friend.’

As she recovered, Veronica found solace in searching for her child, named Catherine by her adoptive parents. Channels of communication, denied to women in the Sixties when it was illegal to have contact with an adopted child, had opened up.

She traced Catherine and discovered that she had enjoyed a stable and happy upbringing with parents, both academics, who had emigrated to Canada.

But forging a relationship with a daughter who is a stranger proved tricky. ‘I wrote a rather gushing letter full of how wonderful it was to find her and I think I overwhelmed her,’ says Veronica.

Indeed, for several years, the birthday and Christmas cards Veronica sent with dogged and hopeful persistence went unacknowledged.

Meanwhile, unburdened of the compulsion to keep her secret, Veronica sought a fresh start. She moved from London to East Sussex where in 1993, at a singles’ club, she met Roger, 69, a divorcee with a grown-up son and two daughters.

‘And the first time we went out I said: “I’ve got a daughter, too,” ’ she smiles.

The admission was liberating: Roger, who is now her husband, supported Veronica’s efforts to build a relationship with her daughter.

Then, in 2008, an unexpected email arrived from Catherine. She’d had a baby. Within a year, Veronica had met not only Catherine, but also her new granddaughter.

She recalls the day when her daughter’s car pulled into the drive of the house with sweeping coastal views which she shares with Roger.

‘Catherine walked in with her toddler and all her baby stuff as if she was at home and gave me a big hug. It was wonderful. Now she introduces me as her “other mum”, and I’m also Grandma Veronica.’

For Lorna Read, too, there was eventually to be a happy resolution to the agony of separation from her daughter. But for her it also came after many years of emotional trauma following her pregnancy in 1968.

At that time, her parents disowned her and she, too, was treated as a fallen woman, even though it was her philandering lover who abandoned her.

‘He was an art lecturer 11 years my senior and he’d asked me to marry him,’ she says. ‘Then I got pregnant, and after three months he threw me out of the house and installed another woman there.

‘No decent landlord would give me accommodation because I was single and pregnant, so I ended up in a bedsit in the East End of London, up 89 stairs. It was overrun with mice and I shared a cold water tap on the landing.’

Lorna, a graduate, found temporary work in the civil service. ‘I bought a ring for nine shillings (45p) from Woolworth’s and told everyone my husband was away at sea,’ she says.

Meanwhile, she endured the full weight of her social workers’ disapproval for her moral laxity. ‘They told me I was feckless and had nothing to offer a child,’ she says. ‘They said there were lots of God-fearing people who’d give my baby a good Christian upbringing.’

When Lorna’s baby was born in a maternity home run by nuns, she named her daughter Rowan after the tree which is believed to have protective properties.

She tried vainly to stem the flood of love she felt for the little girl. ‘She had a cry with a little hiccup at the end, but I’d been told to ignore her after she was born — not to reach out and pick her up — which was torture. All the time I tried to put a stopper on my emotions and it took all the strength I had,’ she says.

After her discharge, Lorna’s daughter was placed in foster care in South London. She begged for time to try to find a home for herself and her baby, and was given six weeks’ grace, after which, she was told, the child would be adopted.

‘I traipsed the streets looking for accommodation, but no one would take a single mother and baby,’ she remembers. When the time was up, I was forced to say goodbye to her. It felt as if the world had ended. The legacy of heartbreak stayed with me.’

It was only in 2005 that she was able to trace her daughter — renamed Rhiannon by her adoptive parents — through an adoption and reunion organisation. A bond was forged instantaneously.

‘I met her at the ticket barrier at Liverpool Street Station. She’d travelled from Ipswich, where she lived then. She said, “Hello Mum”, and we haven’t stopped talking since.

She is warm, outgoing, artistic, caring. She also has the most wonderful adoptive mother, Jo, a geography teacher, who is solid, dependable, intelligent. Rhiannon tells everyone she has two mums now, and Jo calls her our mutual daughter.’

Not every search for an adopted child, of course, is resolved as neatly. Pat Ferrett, 67, from Ramsgate, Kent, was 17 and working as an accounts clerk when she fell pregnant in 1965 by her fiance. She needed her father’s consent to marry because, as the law stood then, she was underage.

But he refused. To compound Pat’s misery, her fiance then refused to acknowledge paternity. They had not actually had intercourse: she had become pregnant through ‘heavy petting’ as it was then termed.

Naively, neither had imagined this was possible; her fiance assumed another man was the father. Though her father organised a private adoption, she never forgot her son.

It is the scent of her newborn that stays with her even now. ‘I can still summon it up; a warm, sweet smell like honeysuckle,’ she says. ‘When I held him for the last time, I almost couldn’t breathe. I felt as if everything had been taken from me.’

Pat went on to marry another man. She had two children, now aged 45 and 44, by her first husband. They divorced and she is now happily wed to Frank, 77, a retired printer.

But the yearning to find her first child remained and in 2005 she traced him and sent him a letter via an intermediary. The response was businesslike. He assured Pat that he’d had a happy childhood. He’d attended public school and university, married a beautiful woman and had two adorable children.

But he added that he felt no need to form a relationship with Pat; neither did he wish to correspond further. Pat, though she was bereft, accepted her son’s decision.

‘I’m glad he had an education I could never have provided for him; that he’d turned into a solid, upright young man. I would have loved a relationship with him, but I know he’s had a good life.’

And so she goes on from day to day, scarred like so many other women by the shattering knowledge that she can never get back the years of happiness that were snatched away from her.

Doesn’t this constitute genocide?

archive photo

Truth and Reconciliation Commission officials expect toll to rise as more records reviewed

OTTAWA — Thousands of Canada’s aboriginal children died in residential schools that failed to keep them safe from fires, protected from abusers, and healthy from deadly disease, a commission into the saga has found. So far, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada has determined that more than 4,000 of the school children died.

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If 4,000 people die at the hands of others like in Palestine right now, doesn’t that constitute genocide? This happened in America too and where are the headlines? As we slowly uncover more and more history and the atrocities, it’s too late, it’s done. The children are gone. No one stands trial. No one is put in prison.

What did we do to deserve this? Why would Creator allow this to happen? And more importantly I ask, how can we stop it? Where do we go from here?  How do you cope with things that happened in the past that are still going on?

It’s a fair and honest question.

I cannot bear to think of innocent children being murdered – anywhere. We are living among monsters, very scary people…Lara/Trace

Archive Photo

“I was given that porridge I got sick on and I had to eat that … And if you don’t eat, then you’re going to get beat up some more, and you’re going to get punished – and if you throw up again you’re going to have to eat that too, so what choice do you have?” Metatawabin, 66, says at times he and his classmates were forced to sit in an electric chair – either as punishment or as entertainment for the staff at St Anne’s Indian Residential School, which operated from the early 1900s to 1976 in northern Ontario province.  Now, Metatawabin says, the government is hiding information about the school… St Anne’s was part of a government-supported school system to “assimilate” aboriginal children.  About 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families by the federal government for decades starting in the 1800s and put into church-run residential schools. Many suffered physical and sexual abuse and squalid living conditions, and a Truth and Reconciliation Committee recently said at least 4,000 children died – a number that could be much higher…”

via Canada accused of hiding child abuse evidence – Features – Al Jazeera English.

 

Native people depend on our ancestors and the unborn for the answer and for understanding.

Why Canada will Never have a Truthful Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

As the Cheyenne Proverb says, “A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors nor how strong their weapons.”

Aakdewin

Let’s be real. Canada will never have a truthful inquiry into missing and murdered women.  I really think we should save our breath and stop asking.  However, that doesn’t mean that I think that we should give up. What we need is a different approach.  What we need is for Indigenous people to conduct the inquiry and promote it on the international level. What about funding you ask? Its going to be the grassroots who gets this done. Its going to take a lot of heart, work, volunteer hours and our own money – but that is the only way it will happen. I am quite sure about that.

I owe you a better explanation of what I mean. So let’s begin by asking the right question. Why won’t Canada ever have a truthful inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women? The reasons are (in no particular order):

 

Reason…

View original post 495 more words

Canada crimes against First Nations was genocide

First Nations children hold letters spelling out ‘goodbye’ at Fort Simpson Indian Residential School in 1922. (J.F. MORAN/LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA)

By PHIL FONTAINE AND BERNIE FARBER

Special to The Globe and Mail

On Monday, Oct. 14, we have the unique and historic opportunity to meet with Professor James Anaya, the Special United Nations Rapporteur for Indigenous People. It is our conviction that Canada’s history with First Nations people was not just dark and brutal, but in fact constituted a “genocide” as defined by the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide. Unresolved issues regarding genocide can have the effect of holding back real progress in economic development in any community.

Genocides rarely emerge fully formed from the womb of evil. They typically evolve in a stepwise fashion over time, as one crime leads to another and another.

The Holocaust is the undisputed genocide of all genocides, and it has been argued passionately by many historians that no other dark period in human history quite compares to it. Although qualitatively true in some aspects, modern historians no longer need to rely on shades of darkness in order to analyze genocide.

The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) was adopted on Dec. 9, 1948. It gives a very clear definition of what is and what is not a genocide. Stated another way, since 1948, social scientists have had the necessary tools to determine if genocide has occurred. It should also be pointed out that under the CPPCG, the intention to commit genocide is itself a crime, and not just the act of genocide.

It’s clear that Canada’s first prime minister Sir John A. MacDonald’s policy of starving First Nations to death in order to make way for the western expansion of European settlers meets the criteria of genocide under the CPPCG.

Similarly, the entire residential school system also passes the genocide test, in particular if you consider the fact that the Department of Indian Affairs, headed by Duncan Campbell Scott, deliberately ignored the recommendations of Peter Bryce, Canada’s first Chief Medical Officer, regarding the spread of tuberculosis in the schools. Such willful disregard for the basic principles of public health constitutes an act of genocide by omission, if not deliberate commission.

Finally, we have the very recent and painful memory of forced removal of First Nations children from their families by Indian Agents which occurred in the 1960s, also known by the popular term “Sixties Scoop.” This is an act of genocide that clearly meets the CPPCG test, and also fell outside of the residential school system.

Our conviction is that Canadian policy over more than 100 years can be defined as a genocide of First Nations under the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.

We hold that until Canada as represented by its government engages in a national conversation about our historical treatment of the First Nations; until we come to grips with the fact that we used racism, bigotry and discrimination as a tool to not only assimilate First Nations into the Canadian polity, but engaged in a deliberate policy of genocide both cultural and physical; we will never heal.

The fact that Canada’s Aboriginal peoples have not been wiped out, and are indeed growing in numbers, is not proof that genocide never occurred, as some would have us believe. The historical and psychological reality of genocide among our Aboriginal communities is very much alive and a part of living memory. The sooner we recognize this truth, the sooner both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians will be able to heal from our shared traumas.

This is adapted from a letter to the United Nations Rapporteur for Indigenous People delivered by Phil Fontaine, a former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Bernie Farber, senior vice-president of Gemini Power Corporation and former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress. It is also signed by Elder Fred Kelly, a spiritual elder and member of the AFN Council of Elders, and Dr. Michael Dan, president of gemini Power Corporation.

An estimated 16,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families as a result of the 60’s Scoop

An estimated 16,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families as a result of the 60’s Scoop.

 

“We are still here”… Watch this video… Trace/Lara

Not even human: TB experiments on First Nations kids

tb virus
Indigenous children were experimented on with a TB vaccine. Culture shown above…

‘Not Even Human’

How Canadian Govt. Abused Aboriginal Children in TB Experiments

ICTMN Staff, July 28, 2013

While aboriginal children died of tuberculosis in the 1930s and 1940s, Canadian health officials tried out experimental vaccines on infants rather than ameliorate the conditions of poverty that sparked that and a host of other illnesses.

These revelations, while not new, have re-emerged in the wake of the discovery that nutritional experiments were conducted on First Nations children in the 1940s.

As with the nutritional experiments, the TB vaccine research capitalized on the poverty of its subjects to conduct studies rather than address the underlying factors leading to the high incidence of the lung infection, says a report by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).

“It is pretty depressing. It is just document after document. They treated these people like they were not even human,” said Maureen Lux, a professor at Brock University who is writing a book about the treatment of indigenous people in TB sanitoriums, in an interview with the network. “It is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done.”

In the interview posted by APTN on July 24, Lux discussed the findings she had first published in a 1998 paper on the vaccine trials, which she is expanding into the book due out next year.

“Historians have been reluctant to question medical care because we are enthralled with the power of medicine,” she told APTN. “Once I started looking at what was going and how they were operated and in whose interest, it becomes a fairly dark story.”

In studying aboriginal people and the medical system, Lux examined reserve conditions in southern Saskatchewan, in the Qu’Appelle region, during the early 20th century.

In expanding her paper on the treatment of indigenous people in sanatoriums, she found that a federal program that ran from 1930 to 1932 had cut the tuberculosis rate in half by improving housing conditions, drilling wells to access better-quality water, and enhancing nutrition for children and pregnant women. Lux’s paper, “Perfect Subjects: Race Tuberculosis and the Qu’Appelle BCG Vaccine Trial,” detailed these findings, as well as the fact that the government had chosen to ignore this solution and seek the cheaper method of simply vaccinating babies against the disease, APTN reported.

“The general death rate and the infant mortality rate both also fell. Thus, before the BCG vaccine trials were begun, the tuberculosis death rate had been reduced by half by marginal improvements in living conditions, and especially by segregating those with active tuberculosis,” wrote Lux, according to APTN.

Although the vaccine ultimately was proven to work—and is still in use today—children died of gastroenteritis and pneumonia during the study period, Lux wrote. Although some medical professionals expressed misgivings about the ethics of such studies, they continued.

“Between October 1933 and 1945, a total of 609 infants were involved in the tests—half given the vaccine, half not,” the Canadian Press reported. “Results were clear: nearly five times as many cases of TB among the non-vaccinated children. But the real lesson from the tests was the connection between dire living conditions and overall health.”

The report went on to elaborate.

“Of the 609 children in the tests, 77 were dead before their first birthday, only four of them from TB,” the Canadian Press wrote. “Both vaccinated and unvaccinated groups had at least twice the non-tuberculosis death rate as the general population.”

This would seem especially cruel in light of the TB scourge that persists today, especially in Inuit communities.

RELATED: Indigenous Peoples Particularly Vulnerable to Surge of TB

Inuit Renew Fight Against Tuberculosis as Cases Increase

Canada Bands Together Against Northern TB Scourge

But the experiments didn’t stop there, Lux told APTN. The TB antibiotic streptomycin was administered to First Nations patients in other trials at Charles Camsell hospital in Edmonton, which has since closed down. In addition, Lux told APTN, doctors surgically removed TB from indigenous patients up until the 1950s and 1960s, long after the practice had been discontinued in the non-indigenous population.

“Do we interpret that surgeons and medical directors thought they were doing right and never questioning the assumption that these people were going to actually spread TB when they actually weren’t?” Lux told APTN. “They could do it and they did it and that is as shocking as any kind of experiment.”

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/28/lab-rats-guinea-pigs-canadians-experimented-aboriginal-infants-tuberculosis-vaccine

Aboriginal children used in medical tests, commissioner says

Truth and Reconciliation Commission seeks further documentation on tests

CBC News

Commissioners Marie Wilson, from left, Justice Murray Sinclair and Chief Wilton Littlechild of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Sinclair told CBC News that aboriginal children were also used as medical test subjects. Commissioners Marie Wilson, from left, Justice Murray Sinclair and Chief Wilton Littlechild of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Sinclair told CBC News that aboriginal children were also used as medical test subjects. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/07/31/medical-testing-on-aboriginals-murray-sinclair-trc.html

 

Aboriginal Canadians were not only subjected to nutritional experiments by the federal government in the 1940s and 1950s but were also used as medical test subjects, says the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In an interview with CBC Radio’s All Points West on Tuesday, Justice Murray Sinclair told host Jo-Ann Roberts that commission staff has “seen the documents that relate to the experiments that were conducted in residential schools.”

Other documents related to experimentation in aboriginal communities outside of residential schools have not yet been obtained, Sinclair said.

“We do know that there were research initiatives that were conducted with regard to medicines that were used ultimately to treat the Canadian population. Some of those medicines were tested in aboriginal communities and residential schools before they were utilized publicly.”

Sinclair said some of those medicines developed were then withheld from the same aboriginal children they were originally tested on.

“Some of those medicines which we know were able to work in the general population, we also have discovered were withheld from children in residential schools, and we’re trying to find the documents which explain that too,” Sinclair said.

CBC News has not seen the documents in the possession of the commission.

Recent revelations that the Canadian government used at least 1,300 aboriginal children attending residential schools in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia as test subjects have prompted further calls from aboriginal groups to pressure the federal government to turn over all archival documents related to residential schools.

“Our government recognizes that the relationship between Canada and First Nations has helped shape the country we know today,” Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt‘s director of communications Jason MacDonald said Wednesday in a statement.

“While we cannot undo the past, we can learn from it and ensure that those dark chapters are not repeated.”

MacDonald said that is why the Conservative government apologized for the residential school policy and “that is why we continue to focus on the work of reconciliation, on improving living conditions for First Nations, and on creating economic opportunities for First Nation communities.”

The commission, according to Sinclair, is in possession of the documents used by historian Ian Mosby to show that the Canadian government conducted nutritional experiments on malnourished aboriginal children and adults attending residential schools during and after the Second World War.

However, the commission has not been able to obtain documents “related to experimentation that went on in aboriginal communities outside of the residential school setting.”

“We haven’t seen those documents,” the chair of the commission told CBC News.

Valcourt’s office has said they have turned over 900 documents related to this to the work by the commission.

Ottawa ordered to provide all documents

In January, an Ontario Court ordered the Canadian government to turn over all residential school archival documents to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and while the federal government has expressed a willingness to comply, Sinclair said “we haven’t seen the documents start to flow yet.”

The worry now, said Sinclair, is that even with the best of intentions Ottawa may not have the resources to provide all these archival documents in a timely manner.

“It’s a question of capacity and whether they have sufficient resources and time to be able to get them to us before our mandate as a commission expires on July 1, 2014.”

Sinclair said that if the federal government is unable to turn over all of the documents from Library and Archives Canada before the commission’s mandate expires next summer, the commission may have to turn to the courts once more.

Many of the documents are said to reside with departments outside of Aboriginal Affairs, such as the Health Department.

But a final report without all the documents would not be a “truthful” report, according to Sinclair.

“The report itself, in our view, only complies with the mandate if we are able to write a full and complete history of residential schools and in order to do that, we need those documents,” the chair of the commission told CBC News.

The residential schools system, which ran from the 1870s until the 1990s, removed about 150,000 aboriginal children from their families and sent them to church-run schools under a deliberate policy of “civilizing” First Nations.

Many students were physically, mentally and sexually abused. Some committed suicide. Mortality rates reached 50 per cent at some schools.

In the 1990s, thousands of victims sued the churches that ran the schools and the Canadian government.

The $1.9-billion settlement of that suit in 2007 prompted an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper followed by the creation of the commission in 2008.

10 Other Things You Might Not Have Known About 20th-Century Canadian First Nations History

By Sean Kheraj [SOURCE: http://activehistory.ca/2013/07/ten-other-things-you-might-not-have-known-about-20th-century-aboriginal-history-in-canada-3/]

2013-07-17 10.53.17

If there was a weekly prize for active historians in Canada, Ian Mosby would have been last week’s winner. Canadian national news media (including print, radio, television, and web) prominently featured Dr. Mosby’s recently published Histoire Sociale/Social History article, “Administering Colonial Science: Nutrition Research and Human Biomedical Experimentation in Aboriginal Communities and Residential Schools, 1942-1952.”

This paper originated from some documents Mosby found at Library and Archives Canada while working on his dissertation. He discovered evidence of a little-known federal government program of nutritional experiments on starving Aboriginal people. Nutrition scientists conducted a series of experiments on malnourished Aboriginal children and adults for a period between 1942 and 1952. The federal government did not seek informed consent from the more than 1,000 residential school children from provinces across the country who were unwittingly included in this biomedical research.

When news of the publication hit Twitter, national news media outlets quickly picked up on the story and profiled Mosby’s work in numerous publications and broadcasts. Here are a few examples:

As the story continued throughout the week, it prompted responses from several public commentators, including major newspaper editorials, the Manitoba’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and former Prime Minister, Paul Martin:

Unfortunately, this kind of public attention to historical scholarship is rare, in part, because scholarly journals are often inaccessible to the public. The recent notoriety of Ian Mosby’s work has raised the matter of open-access publishing for Canadian historians. Aside from those with institutional and personal subscriptions to such journals, the broader public beyond academia almost never learns about new historical research findings. Thankfully,the editors and publishers of Histoire Sociale/Social History heeded the suggestions of a handful of #Twitterstorians and released Mosby’s article as an open access publication (for a limited time). Given that the American Historical Association just recently made the controversial decision not to support open access for recently completed dissertations, this example of Mosby’s important research is hopefully a reminder that making historical scholarship broadly accessible can serve a greater public good while not undermining the professional interests of scholars.

Since there was so much public interest in twentieth-century history of Aboriginal people in Canada last week, I thought I would compile a list of ten open-access scholarly publications that provide insights into this history. Here are ten things you might not have known about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada in the twentieth century:

1. In the 1950s, the federal government relocated Inuit people to experimental colonies in the Arctic archipelago.

Alan R. Marcus. Out in the Cold: The Legacy of Canada’s Inuit Relocation Experiment in the High Arctic. Copenhagen: IWGIA, 1992. http://www.iwgia.org/publications/search-pubs?publication_id=155

2. In 1933, the National Research Council subjected Aboriginal children of the Qu’Appelle reserve in southern Saskatchewan to experimental trials of BCG vaccines for tuberculosis.

Maureen Lux. “Perfect Subjects: Race, Tuberculosis,and the Qu’Appelle BCG Vaccine Trial” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 15.2 (1998): 277-295. http://www.cbmh.ca/index.php/cbmh/article/view/407/406

3. Aboriginal people have fought for Canada in every overseas conflict in the twentieth century.

P. Whitney Lackenbauer with John Moses, R. Scott Sheffield, and Maxime Gohier. A Commemorative History of Aboriginal People in the Canadian Military Ottawa: National Defence. http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp/pub/boo-bro/abo-aut/index-eng.asp

4. Throughout the entire twentieth century, Aboriginal people in British Columbia have organized politically for recognition of traditional land rights.

Paul Tennant. “Native Indian Political Organization in British Columbia, 1900-1969: A Response to Internal Colonialism” BC Studies 55 (1982): 3-49. http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/bcstudies/article/view/1132/1176

5. From 1969 to 1971, the federal government conducted “Project Surname” a program to assign second names to Inuit people in the Northwest Territories who traditionally did not have surnames. Prior to this project, the government designated so-called disc numbers to Inuit people for identification and tracking purposes.

Valerie Alia, “Inuit Women and the Politics of Naming in Nunavut” Canadian Woman Studies 14.4 (1994): 11-14. https://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/cws/article/viewFile/9524/8641

6. From 1913 to 1931, all levels of government participated in the removal and erasure of nearly every Coast Salish village and Indian reserve in the City of Vancouver.

Jean Barman. “Erasing Indigenous Indigeneity in Vancouver” BC Studies 155 (2007): 3-30. http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/bcstudies/article/view/626/669

7. In 1962, the British Columbia government agreed to end enforcing ethnic controls on alcohol sales in the Indian Act, which prohibited the sale of alcohol to Aboriginal people.

Robert A. Campbell. “A “Fantastic Rigmarole”: Deregulating Aboriginal Drinking in British Columbia, 1945-62″ BC Studies 141 (2004): 81-104. http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/bcstudies/article/view/1705/1751

8. During the 1946-48 public inquiry on federal administration of Indian Affairs, the Indian Association of Alberta first argued that treaty rights should be the foundation for Aboriginal citizenship in Canada.

Laurie Meijer Drees. “Citizenship and Treaty Rights: The Indian Association of Alberta and the Canadian Indian Act” Great Plains Quarterly 20.2 (2000): 141-158. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/greatplainsquarterly/20/

9. In Ontario in the 1950s and 1960s, Noranda Mines operated a sulphuric acid plant on Serpent River First Nation territory that processed uranium from the nearby Elliot Lake mines. The detrimental environmental effects of sulphuric waste from the plant devastated the Aboriginal community in the years since the closure of the plant.

Lianne Leddy. “Interviewing Nookomis and Other Reflections: The Promise of Community Collaboration” Oral History Forum 30 (2010): 1-18. http://www.oralhistoryforum.ca/index.php/ohf/article/view/386/457

10. In 1922, Dr. Peter Bryce, Canada’s first chief medical health officer, published The Story of a National Crime, a book that outlined statistical evidence that Canada’s Aboriginal population was being destroyed by tuberculosis and the federal government had the means to stop it. The government ignored Bryce’s warnings and fired him for publishing reports on the tuberculosis crisis.

Adam J. Green. “Telling 1922′s Story of a National Crime: Canada’s First Chief Medical Health Officer and the Aborted Fight for Aboriginal Health Care” Journal of Native Studies 26.2 (2006): 211-228. http://www2.brandonu.ca/library/cjns/26.2/01green.pdf

If you have other open-access publications to recommend, please post the citations and links in the comments section below.

Sean Kheraj is an assistant professor in the Department of History at York University. He blogs at http://seankheraj.com

For Canada and First Nations, it’s time to end the experiments

 

Op-Ed by SHAWN ATLEO, The Globe and Mail

Recent reports about the Canadian government’s experiments on hungry, impoverished First Nations children in residential schools have sent a shock wave through the country.

My reaction was deeply personal. My father attended one of the schools where these experiments took place. My family and countless others were treated like lab rats, some even being deprived of necessary nutrition and health care so researchers could establish a “baseline” to measure the effects of food and diet.

First Nations, while condemning the government’s callous disregard for the welfare of children, were perhaps the only ones not completely surprised. The experiments are part of a long, sad pattern of federal policy that stretches through residential schools, forced relocations and the ultimate social experiment, the Indian Act, which overnight tried to displace ways of life that had been in place for generations. All of these experiments are abject failures.

It’s time to end the experiments. Canada must start working with us to honour the promises our ancestors made in treaties and other agreements, to give life to our rights as recognized by Canadian courts and relinquish the chokehold of colonial control over our communities.

As I said on the day this report came to light: Canada, this is your history. We must confront the ugly truths and move forward together. And there is a way forward that requires a dedicated commitment across three key areas: respect, fairness and reconciliation.

Respect requires that Canada work with First Nations to give life to our rights, title and treaties. This requires true partnership. The government must stop making decisions for us and start working with us. First Nations want control over the decisions that affect their lives, to shape their own policies and institutions. They are putting ideas on the table and driving solutions.

We see this clearly in the commitment and clarion call for First Nations control of First Nations education. We reject unilaterally imposed legislation. We will exercise our right to create our own systems that are sustainable, that support our children’s success and value our languages and cultures. This is already happening in Nova Scotia, Alberta, B.C. and elsewhere – First Nations working together and pooling expertise to achieve graduation rates that exceed provincial norms. This is success we must support. It must be not the exception, but our collective expectation and commitment.

Fairness requires that we end the unequal funding that condemns too many of our people to a daily struggle to survive. The experiments on our children did not make us poor. Rather, the government experimented on our children because they were poor, an impoverished population suffering from malnutrition and deprivation. But like so much else, poverty was imposed on us. The research notes that government systematically cut back relief payments to First Nations throughout the Depression era. Non-indigenous Canadians received relief at a rate two and three times higher than First Nations. At the onset of the Second World War, relief was cut again and we were further deprived.

This is still happening. Funding for First Nations – for many of the same things Canadians expect, such as schools and infrastructure – has been capped at a 2-per-cent increase, per year, for 17 years, despite the fact that our population has boomed and inflation outpaces this amount. Provinces enjoy transfers closer to 6 per cent, and these are guaranteed.

Escaping the poverty trap requires fairness, an investment now so we can build stable communities today and stronger nations tomorrow. Research shows that healthy First Nations can contribute hundreds of billions to the economy, while saving more than a $100-billion in costs connected to poverty. Why would we not support this approach?

Finally, the way forward requires reconciliation. This means truth telling, and it requires deliberate and clear action. The government must come forward and disclose all documentation on residential schools to the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The government must be open and transparent in accounting for its spending on First Nations and the billion dollars that is poured into the bureaucracy each year. The government must stop stalling and release all documents related to its unequal funding of First Nations child welfare, the subject of a current complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. It also means action to advance reconciliation through recognizing our inherent rights and responsibilities and clear commitment to honouring and implementing treaties and agreements forged between the Crown and First Nations.

Canadians are rightfully shocked by these revelations. It shakes the core of their belief in Canada as a fair and just nation. It’s time to be honest about our history. We can’t change the past but we must commit to change the present and work together to create a better, brighter and just future.

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations