Press Conference – September 26

Press Conference – September 26

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Press Conference: September 26, 2017 – 10am- Charles Lynch Room, Centre Block, Parliament Hill

Indigenous Survivors to Trudeau: Dismantle Colonial Child Welfare Policies, Pay Reparations for the Sixties Scoop

(Ottawa, Algonquin Territory/September 25, 2017) On the tenth anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCW) – a new national Indigenous organization – are demanding that Canada provide reparations for the Sixties Scoop and end all colonial child welfare policies. Nearly 20 000

Indigenous children were removed by their families by Canada during the Sixties Scoop; while more than 14,000 Indigenous children under the age of 14 remained in foster care by 2011.

Beginning on September 27, 2017, the Network is bringing together and in some cases- bringing home- Indigenous child welfare survivors trafficked by Canada as far as New Zealand to the Capital Region for the 3rd National Bi-Giwen Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare gathering, five days of land-based workshops and ceremony to heal from the ongoing traumas inflicted on them by Canada.

The Network’s leadership and survivors attending the gathering will hold a press conference on Parliament Hill on September 26.

Following Prime Minister Trudeau’s speech at the United Nations committing Canada to “dismantling old colonial structures”, the Network is reminding Trudeau that Indigenous child welfare survivors are leading the fight to dismantle Canada’s colonial child welfare system.

Network Co-Founder Colleen Cardinal’s message to Trudeau: “The stealing of Indigenous children, erasure of culture and identity are crimes committed by the State against Indigenous people for access to the lands and resources which Canada is built on. We would like the State to acknowledge their crimes and the harm they have created in survivors’ lives, and in the lives of their biological parents and extended families. Consultation and engagement led by survivors is needed, because we are the experts in knowing what we need to heal and move forward.”

Many Indigenous child welfare survivors are family members and loves ones of MMIWGTS, and the Network has seen first-hand how Canada’s National Inquiry has failed to investigate police violence and neglect towards Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit people and failed to be accountable to families. Survivor-driven models of healing such as the Bi-Giwen Gathering and movements by families of MMIWGTS provide an alternate model for reconciliation. The Network has served as a model for provincial survivor organizations, including the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta (SSISA).

In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the way Canada funds Indigenous child welfare is racist, because it provides incentives to remove Indigenous children from their families while underfunding community services. In February 2017, Ontario Sixties Scoop survivors won a landmark class action lawsuit. The judge’s finding - that Canada had systematically attempted sever Indigenous children from their families and Indigenous rights- has provided the legal groundwork for a National Sixties Scoop settlement.

During the Bi-Giwen gathering, healing begins from a land-based environment. Network Co-Director Vicky Boldo states: “NISCW has worked diligently since the beginning to provide a safe space for survivors to share their narratives and to heal outside of the confines of colonial constructs.

Each gathering has been organized on the values of being in relationship with the Land - in order to allow the survivors to experience the essence of the teaching of being in relation with all things. A concept that is sadly, all too often unknown to survivors as they were robbed of the opportunity to learn and grow from within their Indigenous families and communities.”

In July 2017, Network Co-Director Duane Morrisseau-Beck addressed the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People, asking the UN to demand that Canada end the mass removal of Indigenous children from their land and families and that Canada immediately implement Jordan’s Principle to correct funding inequities in family services. Morrisseau-Beck concludes: “Indigenous families are the backbones of our communities. When Indigenous families are affected by violence from the state, the strength between all of our families and our children are harmed. Now is the time to ensure these ties are no longer broken.”

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Hele-Cardinal, Co-Founder, NISCWN Cell: (613) 407-7057

Duane Morrisseau-Beck, Co-Director, NISCWN Cell: (613) 252-2226

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