National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network 3rd Bi-Giwen National Gathering
In September of 2017, we had our 3rd annual Bi-Giwen National Gathering at Waupoos Farm just outside of Ottawa. More that 70 Indigenous survivors of child welfare attended – that’s over double from the previous gathering attendance! Survivors attended from all over Turtle Island as well as New Zealand.
Our gathering workshops and activities helped to re-connect us to our culture, unpack our pain and find comfort in knowing that ‘we are not the only one.’ Workshops included drum making, feather bundles, painting, song writing, drum circles, sweat lodges, body care, sharing circles and so much more.
We are so proud of each and every one of us and our stories of survival! We are proud to be a family.
An evening by the fire with Twin Flames and Theland Kicknosway!
Sixties Scoop survivors share stories on their discovery of being Indigenous
Sixties Scoop adoptee Frederick Edwards points to a scar on his knee and recalls the day he had to go to the hospital with because of the cut when he was 10 years old.
“I went to the emergency ward and the doctor asked the triage nurse who was next and the triage nurse said me. And he said, no that’s just an Indian. He’s just an Indian,” Edwards said.
Edwards was adopted into a non-Indigenous family when he was just weeks old.
Although his mother was 21, she didn’t have a family.
And not thought old, or responsible enough to care for him.
“Anyway, a bit later, my sister came into the emergency room where he was working on my leg, giving me stitiches because I was screaming, screaming,” he said. “And I remember white hot pain. And my sister said what’s going on, what’s wrong. And he said, well maybe the freezing needle hasn’t taken yet.”
Edwards is telling his story at the third national gathering of Sixties Scoop adoptees.
It’s being held just outside Ottawa at a place called Wapoose Farm.
Torture, abuse, all that stuff, sexual abuse, physical abuse … I don’t know, I tried to kill myself,” he said.
“I confronted my adopted parents when I was 20..I don’t want this on film.”
Duane Morrisseau-Beck found out he was adopted when he was five.
“I started thinking I didn’t belong or actually that I was in the wrong place.”
He now advocates on behalf of adoptees.
“It was an Elder at a gathering that said, Duane, you need to go home,” he said. “Didn’t understand what that meant, but you know I’ll give it a try.”
Constance Calderwood was also an infant when she was adopted.
“Maybe they didn’t know what they were adopting,” she said. “I honestly think they didn’t know that I was Aboriginal. And I don’t think that’s what they wanted.”
Calderwood doesn’t have any close family anymore.
Except for the people she meets here.
“Like by going to stuff like this, I feel like it’s kinda like a little family. As you get to kow more and more people and stuff like that.”
Later, Edwards eventually does talk about confronting his mother 25-years ago.
“I know I screamed loud enough for you to hear me and you never came to help me or save me… I made her cry,” he said. “She didn’t want to hear it. She said, I didn’t think it was that bad. And I said, he was just terrible experience. And I told her how bad it was, told her things that had happened.”16:53:50:05
Edwards mother changed her phone number.
A niece told him they’ll get in touch if she wanted to talk to him.
“I hung up the phone and I went into…I ripped up everything. Every memory, every picture I had, every childhood thing I had was gone. I tore everything apart.”
Morrisseau-Beck said many adoptees have felt this way at one point in their lives.
“I think most adoptees will say that they hit a crossroads in their lives. It’s either you want to live or die. That’s basically how it goes.”
Edwards rejection was the motivation he needed to find his birth mother.
“I pretty much knocked on her door and she had no idea I was coming. And I said, ‘Hi, I’m your son.’ And she slammed the door in my face. I waited til she opened the door again and let me in.”
His meeting decades ago now has a happy ending.
“We just told each other we loved each other today. So it was nice.”