By Laura Kane
THE CANADIAN PRESS
WHITEHORSE -A man who lost his mother, first to the so-called 60s Scoop then to murder, told the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls that the investigation will have to prove it’s worthy of his trust.
Terry Ladue’s hands shook as he delivered blunt and powerful testimony to the commissioners on the final day of hearings in Whitehorse. He said his mother Jane Dick was beaten to death after he and his siblings were taken from her by child welfare agents in the 1960s and placed in non-indigenous homes.
“The effect it had on me is very simple. I don’t know how to love. I was never taught that,” he said. “I’ve got three beautiful boys out there and I can’t even tell them I love them because I don’t know what the heck that word means.
“The effect it had on me is it drove me down to Vancouver and stuck a needle up my arm for 13 years, trying to kill the pain.”
Ladue said he doesn’t trust the inquiry because all government has ever done is hurt him, take him away from his parents and throw his people in jail. He urged the commissioners to do more than just talk and to take action to elevate indigenous people in society.
Ladue said he has held the bitterness inside for decades.
“Dealing with this today, for me, is letting go of something that I haven’t let go of for 52 years, and that’s the anger I have towards the government officials and the anger I have towards the RCMP.
“I don’t trust. You want my trust, you’ve got to earn my trust.If I see this fall apart, I’ll never trust again.”
Several listeners, including commissioner Qajaq Robinson, were crying by the end of Ladue’s testimony.
The first family hearings held by the national inquiry began on Tuesday and will wrap up Thursday with a closing ceremony. Chief Commissioner Marion Buller has said it is crucial to the inquiry that hearings be successful, and families are split on whether that was the case.
Shaun LaDue, who uses a capital D in his last name unlike his brother, said he felt respected and heard after testifying about their mother.
“The hearings so far to me seem to be going very good. The commissioners are listening to us with their heart and their soul and they’re very responsive to what the Yukon First Nations families have to say about the missing and murdered women,” he said in an interview.
“I have good hope, a big, strong hope, that when they go across Canada, people will see that they’re working their hardest.”
Joan Jack, a lawyer and family member of a murdered woman, criticized the quasi-judicial format of the inquiry. She said the formal processes of the inquiry, including the swearing-in of witnesses, is making many participants uncomfortable.
She also wanted to know why the inquiry’s lead legal counsel is not indigenous.
Jack said all Canadians need to hear the uncomfortable truths revealed during testimony to the inquiry, saying that while the details are disturbing, the only way to make progress is if everyone suffers together.
The inquiry has faced criticism from families and advocates across the country about delays and poor communications. Other community hearings won’t be held until the fall.