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They Took Us Away

They Took Us Away
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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

60s Scoop survivor strong advocate today #NDN

60s Scoop child turns horrifying experience into strong advocacy

 
Lynn Thompson
Author:
By Shari Narine Sage
Contributing Editor SASKATOON
Forty-one years ago Lynn Thompson was stolen from off the Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba.
“We were told by our grandparents, if white people come around, you run in to the bush,” said Thompson.
But the three-year-old could not run fast enough and she and her two sisters, one of whom she carried on her back and the other she was pulling, were apprehended by social workers. Her eight-year-old uncle, who kicked the men who were taking her, was also grabbed.
Thompson's three older brothers made it to the bush safely. Thompson would be 40 before she reunited with members of her biological family, but they still remain strangers to her.
Thompson was one of a conservatively estimated 20,000 children who were apprehended in the 1960s through to the 1980s. The “60s Scoop,” as this action became known because the majority of children were taken in the first decade, was a government-sanctioned program entitled Adopt Indian/Métis children. These Aboriginal children were placed in foster homes throughout Canada and the United States. Thompson said the uncle who tried to rescue her was sold for $500 to a family in the US. What ensued for Thompson were 25 foster homes in Ontario and Manitoba by the time she was eight years old and two failed adoption attempts. Like many of the children in her situation, she was abused. Eventually, she ended up being settled in a German Mennonite community in Manitoba. Seventy percent of the children taken were placed in non-Aboriginal homes.
“I would have given anything to have been in a residential school, to have other brown faces around,” said Thompson, who shot herself while in care.
The pain of Thompson’s childhood, which she classifies as “pretty messed,” followed her into adulthood.
Twelve years ago, Thompson accompanied a partner to Saskatchewan. Shortly after arriving in that province, she contracted HIV through intravenous drug use.
“I wouldn’t say I was a regular user. It was just something I experimented with and I ended up contracting HIV,” she said.
That was when she took control of her life.
“With HIV, it’s either fight or flight. I chose to fight. I educated myself,” said Thompson who spent two years learning all there was to know about the virus. She turned away from modern medicine and treated herself with a traditional tea and is also under the care of a healer from Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation.
“I’m kind of the White Buffalo of HIV. I’m the only one I know of in Canada that uses traditional meds (for HIV),” said Thompson. “Instead of getting sicker, I’m getting better.”
But she didn’t stop there. Nine years ago, Thompson became an advocate for those suffering from the virus, fighting against the stigma and discrimination HIV-positive people experience every day.
Saskatoon, where Thompson lives, and Prince Albert have the highest cases of HIV in the country. Young women present the highest numbers, contracting the virus through intravenous drug use. But in the next few years, Thompson expects to see those figures skewed as a larger number of older men become HIV-positive through unsafe sex. Thompson said men are paying $20 or $30 extra to do the act without a condom.
Thompson has amassed an impressive resume. She serves as consultant for such organizations as Persons Living With AIDS Network and AIDS Saskatoon; has been an advisor for working groups such as All Nations Hope Network and Public Health Canada; has spoken in schools both in the Saskatoon Public School system and Saskatchewan First Nations; has participated in the documentaries “Positive Women” (for Canadian AIDS Law Society) and “Silent Epidemic” (Indigenous Circle); and has written articles and been interviewed for various television programs.
Thompson is also one of two women named in a class action lawsuit launched last year against the federal government in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Regina. She and Valery Longman represent other First Nations and Metis children targeted in the “60s Scoop.”
For the past 15 years, Thompson has been collecting information and stories from and about children taken from their homes in this manner. After she was reunited with her youngest sister, who broke her back after running away from a foster home in the US, Thompson and others realized something needed to be done. It was then that a lawsuit was discussed.
Thompson is hopeful that the lawsuit can lead to support similar to what residential school survivors have received through the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. She also hopes it makes Canadians aware of another dark part of Canadian history.
Source: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/saskatchewan-sage/60s-scoop-child-turns-horrifying-experience-strong-advocacy

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“Cherokee Nation ICW (Indian Child Welfare) is supporting the campaign #DefendICWA developed by the National Indian Child Welfare Association. Our department is asking individuals to express their support by writing down how and why they support and defend ICWA, with a snapshot of their self holding their document of support. Cherokee Nation is the largest federally recognized tribal nation. We also have the largest ICW department. ICW has around 130 employees who work continuously to ensure our Native families and children’s rights are protected and the ICWA is enforced. The BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) has published ICWA regulations, which will be in full effect this December 2016. These regulations address issues in the past that were misinterpreted by state courts and blatantly ignored. The regulations make the ICWA stronger, give it teeth and (makes) more clear for state courts understanding. The regulations also address the so-called ‘existing Indian family doctrine.’ This doctrine is no more. Unfortunately, there is still misconception and misunderstanding as to why the ICWA is so significant to tribal nations. There is a constant struggle with the media whom paints tribal nations so horrific and develops a very negative perception of ICWA. We are here. We are not going anywhere, and we will continue to fight for ICWA to ensure our future by taking care of our children. Every Cherokee child matters no matter where they reside. This campaign puts a face to supporters’ words. This campaign shows Indian Country’s strong supports of ICWA.” Heather Baker, Cherokee Nation citizen on the “I support and defend the ICWA because” Campaign #RealPeopleSeries

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Thought-provoking and moving 11 October 2012
Two Worlds - Lost children of the Indian Adoption Projects

If you thought that ethnic cleansing was something for the history books, think again. This work tells the stories of Native American Indian adoptees "The Lost Birds" who continue to suffer the effects of successive US and Canadian government policies on adoption; policies that were in force as recently as the 1970's. Many of the contributors still bear the scars of their separation from their ancestral roots. What becomes apparent to the reader is the reality of a racial memory that lives in the DNA of adoptees and calls to them from the past.
The editors have let the contributors tell their own stories of their childhood and search for their blood relatives, allowing the reader to gain a true impression of their personalities. What becomes apparent is that nothing is straightforward; re-assimilation brings its own cultural and emotional problems. Not all of the stories are harrowing or sad; there are a number of heart-warming successes, and not all placements amongst white families had negative consequences. But with whom should the ultimate decision of adoption reside? Government authorities or the Indian people themselves? Read Two Worlds and decide for yourself.

ADOPTION TRUTH

As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

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