Q. Why did you embark on this project?
A: There needs to be an awakening in Canada to the realities of Indigenous peoples—especially us telling our own stories to raise awareness, educate and support our own healing journeys. My lived experiences include being caught up in a deliberate attempt at cultural genocide—death by social policy. When I first learned there were thousands of adoptees that went through similar experiences of cultural loss, loneliness and abuse as I did, I wanted to support them and make sure their stories were validated and shared.
Q: What is your connection to the 60s Scoop?
A: In the early 1970s, when my two sisters and I were very young, we were taken away from our biological parents and placed in foster homes. We were adopted into a non-Indigenous household in Ontario, three thousand miles away from our homeland, our people, our language and anything vaguely familiar to our Cree culture. Life was difficult in our new home; we dealt with isolation, racism and sexual and physical abuse for many years. All three of us had run away by the time we were fifteen-years-old. Eventually we all found our way back to Alberta (Cardinal, 2012).
Q: Who else is involved with this documentary?
A: Several 60’s Scoop survivors and survivor advocates, as well as my son.
We will share what it was like to grow up in non-Indigenous families, without their culture, language, lands, identity and relations. This deliberate attempt at assimilation of Indigenous people in Canada and enforced federal policy through Children’s Services or Children’s Aid Societies left the survivors feeling disconnected from themselves and their people. Robert Commanda will also lend his voice and insights about a class action lawsuit against the Ontario provincial government that he has been fighting in the courts for the past four years. The documentary will also include my son Sage Hele, who will speak about how inter-generational trauma, abuse and discrimination shaped his own life. I am grateful to those involved with this project for their resilience, passion and openness to sharing their stories and healing journeys.
Q: What questions do you want this project to answer?
A: The most important question to be addressed is how Canadian government 60’s Scoop policies affected Indigenous people’s lives. I would like to highlight the very high number of Indigenous children who were “scooped” away from their families and communities. It’s important for Canadians to see that the social issues covered by the media are a direct result of these policies to eradicate Indigenous people in Canada.
Q: Why is this documentary so important NOW?
A: I feel this is important because of the growing need for understanding, awareness and education for mainstream Canadian audiences. The Idle No More movement and the resurgence of Indigenous culture and awareness has Indigenous people asking questions and awakening their need to reclaim their identity. I also feel this documentary needs to be shared so that other 60’s Scoop survivors know they are not alone.
Q: What support do you need in order to make this project a reality?
A: I need Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to share the project within their social and professional networks to raise awareness, financial and in-kind donations for our project work. Donations will go towards equipment rentals, transportation costs and honorariums for artists featured in the the documentary.
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