Under the Cover: Amplifying the Stories of 60s Scoop Survivors
The 60s Scoop (sometimes written as “Sixties Scoop”) was a Canadian policy beginning in the 1960s that took Indigenous children without consent from their families and put them within the child welfare system, where they were either adopted by settler (usually white) families or remained in foster care. In the new anthology Silence to Strength: Writings and Reflections on the Sixties Scoop (Kegedonce Press), survivors of this practice speak out; telling their own stories and reclaiming the identities that were robbed from them as children. Anthology editor Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith shares why she brought together these powerful voices below.
Writing my memoir – These Are the Stories: Memories of a 60s Scoop Survivor – reminded me of how important writing has played a role in my healing. When it came to pitching the idea of an anthology of stories by other 60s Scoop survivors, it was received enthusiastically by Kegedonce Press and for that, I am extremely grateful.It has been through my healing that it took time for me to come to terms with the notion that there is strength in breaking the silence of your past. After my memoir was published, it gave me further strength and courage to reach out and offer a writing platform for other 60s Scoop survivors.In Silence to Strength I wanted the mainstream public to realize, through the power of story, that the impact of assimilationist policies the Canadian government has imposed on the First Nations/Inuit/Métis peoples of Canada has been extremely detrimental to First Nations/Inuit/Métis families and communities. It is a widespread crisis that could have been averted if the Canadian government hadn’t imposed such genocidal policies on the Indigenous people of Canada.We are supposedly in a time of truth and reconciliation, but a huge part of truth and reconciliation is being willing and wanting to understand a part of history that has gone unacknowledged up until the 60s Scoop settlement and then recently when Pope Francis came to Canada and acknowledged that what has been done to the Indigenous people of Canada amounts to genocide. As a First Nations woman who is an intergenerational survivor of the residential school system, the 60s Scoop and then the foster care system, I didn’t need the Pope to come to Canada to say that, I knew it already, along with millions of other Indigenous peoples who have been impacted by Canada’s assimilationist policies.I am hoping that if I can make a small difference with the Silence to Strength anthology, it is to bring more awareness and education to the mainstream public about the impact the 60s Scoop had on the Indigenous peoples of Canada. We are at a crucial time, where the 60s Scoop is something that really can no longer be pushed aside or ignored. It needs to be known about and spoken about because it is something that caused irreparable harm to the Indigenous peoples of Canada. It affected Indigenous families and communities throughout Canada and beyond.Most importantly, though, through the Silence to Strength anthology I am hoping that the mainstream public can see how there is strength through stories, and it is through story that Indigenous people are thriving. We are here and we are saying “We are strong, and strong we will stay.”
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Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith is a Saulteaux woman from Peguis First Nation. She is an editor, writer and journalist who graduated from the University of Toronto with a specialization in Aboriginal Studies in June 2011 and went on to receive her Master’s in Education in Social Justice in June 2017. Her first non-fiction story “Choosing the Path to Healing” appeared in the 2006 anthology Growing Up Girl: An Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces. She has written for the Native Canadian, Anishinabek News, Windspeaker, FNH Magazine, New Tribe Magazine, Muskrat Magazine and the Piker Press. She is also the author of These are the Stories: Memories of a 60s Scoop Survivor (Kegedonce Press, 2021) .