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Study for Struggle: Ohpikiihaakan-ohpihmeh (Raised somewhere else)

Thanks to determined grassroots Indigenous efforts, there is a growing public discussion in the Canadian context about what is known as the “60s scoop.” This was the period, starting in the late 1950s, when over 20,000 Indigenous children were removed from their families, lands, and cultures and trafficked across provinces, borders, and overseas to be raised in non-Indigenous households. Colleen Cardinal, a survivor of the 60s scoop and a fierce activist, has made a major contribution to this discussion with her book Ohpikiihaakan-ohpihmeh (Raised somewhere else): A 60s Scoop Adoptee’s Story of Coming Home, published last year by Fernwood Publishing. Cardinal generously – and unflinchingly – shares her life with us, illuminating the everyday violence of Canadian colonialism and tracing her own journey of healing and resistance. I recommend this book!

Here’s one gem from Cardinal’s book:

In recent years, I have been able to change my perspective of myself as a victim by examining my experiences over the decades and tracing the colonial violence in my family right back to the making of Canada. I was never meant to find out what happened to my family, let alone find my parents, endure the violence, heal from the trauma and put the pieces together about how the state intended to assimilate me into the mindless tax-paying Canadian citizenry. The state has never been invested in making sure I retained my culture, land base or knowledge, nor was it concerned that my health and well-being as a First Nations ward of the Crown was protected. This would lead me to believe that everything I had learned up to this point about the state in its dealings with First Nations people was deliberate in its intent to erase us from the history of this country.

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