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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Aboriginal adoptees sue Ottawa for loss of culture, emotional trauma

 
 
Aboriginal adoptees sue Ottawa for loss of culture, emotional trauma

Photo: The StarPhoenix, file photo

Almost 1,200 adoptees in Saskatchewan have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking compensation for their loss of culture and emotional trauma. Starting in the 1960s, thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes by Canadian child welfare services and placed with non-aboriginal families.


Aboriginals who were adopted into white families during the so-called '60s Scoop are suing the federal government for their loss of culture and emotional trauma.
Almost 1,200 adoptees have filed a class-action lawsuit in Saskatchewan seeking compensation from Ottawa for "cultural genocide."

From the 1960s to the 1980s, thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes by child-welfare services and placed with non-aboriginal families, some in the United States. Many consider the adoptions as an extension of residential schools, which aimed to "take the Indian out of the child."
David Chartrand, who joined the lawsuit, was taken from his Manitoba family at the age of five and moved to Minnesota.

"They wanted maids, butlers. They wanted slavery and to do it legally. We just fit that criteria," said the 52-year-old Metis man. "I was made to clean the house, be their slave, be the punching bag."
Chartrand said Canada had a duty to protect him and others like him. Although he returned to his home community of Camperville, Man., in his 20s, he lost everything, he said.

"I lost my life, my childhood." he said. "We want to put it behind us so we can move on."

The lawsuit, which was filed last month, is seeking unspecified damages for everything from loss of identity to sexual and physical abuse. Regina lawyer Tony Merchant said many of the children who were adopted weren't in unsafe homes but were taken simply as another way to assimilate aboriginal people.

"It was a part of taking red babies and trying to make them into white adults."

Having been raised by a white family with no cultural support, many survivors have struggled to reclaim their roots, Merchant said.

"They've just been lost from their culture."

People who were part of the '60s Scoop have been calling for a formal apology from Ottawa. They also want compensation for their experience, which many argue was just as traumatic as that suffered by residential school survivors. But while those who were sent to residential schools have had a formal apology and have been able to participate in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, '60s Scoop adoptees haven't been formally recognized.

Other lawsuits have been filed on behalf of adoptees. A class-action lawsuit by some survivors in Ontario in 2009 is still making its way through the courts.

Chartrand worries any resolution to this lawsuit will come too late for many adoptees who are aging and suffering from increasing ill health. For those adoptees who ended up in prison or committed suicide, Chartrand said, any resolution comes too late.

"As an Indian, you have a spirit. That spirit has to come back home.
"It's not about the money. It's about these kids that are dead out there."
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To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

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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.

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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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