Apol­ogy must be just the first step for govern­ment

PressReader - LStep Channel - Apol­ogy must be just the first step for govern­ment
Next week, Premier Scott Moe is ex­pected to pro­vide an apol­ogy to the vic­tims of the so­called Six­ties Scoop. This trav­esty be­gan in the 1960s but it is still on­go­ing to­day.A sim­ple apol­ogy won’t be good enough. The premier must rise to the oc­ca­sion and put a stop to the racist pol­icy of split­ting up fam­i­lies and ig­nor­ing the In­dige­nous knowl­edge and cul­ture of fam­ily ties and child rais­ing.Since Eu­ro­pean con­tact we have been viewed as in­ca­pable of rais­ing our own chil­dren and there is a long legacy of dam­age by board­ing schools, zeal­ous so­cial work­ers and racist or mis­in­formed so­cial pol­icy.The front-line vic­tims of colo­nial­ism in Canada have been our chil­dren.This apol­ogy is an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity for Moe to step up and re­pair re­la­tions with First Na­tions and Metis peo­ple. His brief ten­ure as Sask. Party leader has been one of ac­ri­mo­nious re­la­tions with the First Na­tions and Metis peo­ple.We had the teepee camp on the leg­is­la­ture lawn that the govern­ment wanted re­moved. To his credit, Regina po­lice Chief Evan Bray re­fused to move in and evict the protesters. In­stead, he met with the cam­pers and built a re­la­tion­ship that re­sulted in a peace­ful so­lu­tion. Had the govern­ment had its way, Regina would have had a black eye as an­other prairie city where racist poli­cies held sway.We also have the changes to the tres­pass leg­is­la­tion which gives landown­ers en­hanced power that could re­sult in a sit­u­a­tion where a landowner might shoot first and ask ques­tions later. The govern­ment must clearly state that hu­man rights trump prop­erty rights. In­stead, it is ap­peal­ing to the Sask. Party base while throw­ing In­dige­nous peo­ple un­der the bus.While an apol­ogy is a good thing, it must be the be­gin­ning of mean­ing­ful change. The Six­ties Scoop is still govern­ment pol­icy and be­ing im­ple­mented ev­ery day. It can’t be viewed as some­thing in the past and the govern­ment can’t act like the prob­lem is solved with an apol­ogy.The Six­ties Scoop should not be viewed as a par­ti­san is­sue. It was sanc­tioned by all Saskatchewan gov­ern­ments from the 1960s to the present — both the NDP and the right-wing govern­ment of the day, be it Lib­eral, Con­ser­va­tive or Sask. Party. There is no moral high ground here and all par­ties must ad­mit that their pre­vi­ous govern­ment al­lowed so­cial work­ers to run amok and seize In­dige­nous chil­dren in a man­ner that would never be al­lowed for any other group in so­ci­ety.To­day there are more In­dige­nous chil­dren in care than were in board­ing schools at the height of that trav­esty.The Saskatchewan govern­ment must re­lin­quish its as­sumed ju­ris­dic­tion over First Na­tions child wel­fare and ad­mit that First Na­tions in­sti­tu­tions are bet­ter equipped to han­dle the wel­fare of our chil­dren.The tribal councils and some First Na­tions have their own child and fam­ily ser­vices in­sti­tu­tions and they need the ju­ris­dic­tion and fi­nan­cial sup­port to do their job. The First Na­tions ap­proach is to strengthen fam­i­lies, not tear them apart leav­ing the so­cial wreck­age that the provin­cial sys­tem has cre­ated.The re­sult of the provin­cial in­volve­ment has had mixed re­sults. Some chil­dren were adopted into lov­ing fam­i­lies and, while they lost their lan­guage and cul­ture, they still were able to suc­ceed in life.In other cases, the chil­dren were phys­i­cally and sex­u­ally abused and lives were ru­ined.I have in­ter­viewed many sur­vivors over the years be­cause this ex­pe­ri­ence has af­fected so many of our peo­ple. One young woman told me that she was sex­u­ally abused by her adopted fa­ther from an early age. She was iso­lated and lived in fear and self-loathing.To­day she lives by her­self and she sees her life as ru­ined.A man told me that he and his brother were adopted by a farm fam­ily and used as slave labour. They did chores ev­ery day and dur­ing the sum­mer they worked ev­ery day haul­ing bales, weed­ing the gar­den and car­ing for live­stock.For their trou­ble they had to live in the base­ment and were not al­lowed up­stairs.I’m glad that the provin­cial govern­ment is is­su­ing an apol­ogy but sim­ply say­ing they’re sorry isn’t enough. The prov­ince has a huge mess to clean up and it’s time to rec­og­nize First Na­tions ju­ris­dic­tion for our child and fam­ily ser­vices.

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