By Chelsea Kemp
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Reawakening spiritual knowledge and teachings that have been passed down for countless generations, the latest session of Healing the Family Within will help ’60s Scoop survivors learn traditional parenting skills.
Each Healing the Family Within workshop has been designed to build off previous classes and help ’60s Scoop survivors, family members and service workers heal from the trauma created by Indigenous children being removed from their families and communities, said cultural support worker Deborah Tacan.
“We’re going to go now into traditional parenting and how our grandparents, our ancestors parented and some of the profound teachings and learning why they did some of the things the way they did,” Tacan said. “When you think about it, there are thousands of years of parenting that came down and that was interrupted through colonization.”
“Healing the Family Within, Building a Foundation in Traditional Parenting Teachings” takes place Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mahkaday Ginew Memorial Centre in Brandon.
The session will include information on traditional parenting, carrying another spirit, the sacredness of children, hands-on activities and time to share. Participants will also talk about the history of the ’60s Scoop and its effects while highlighting the strengths of survivors.
“We bring all of that and we talk about the teachings that are still within us and we are waking them up. We are waking them up because they are sleeping as a result of everything,” Tacan said.
“All of a sudden, we start hearing the positive things, we start seeing the positive things and we choose to start to change stereotypes.”
The ’60s Scoop was the forced adoptions of Indigenous children in Canada as part of a process of assimilation. It is estimated between 20,000 and 40,000 First Nation, Metis and Inuit children were removed from their families and communities and adopted out into non-Indigenous households during this period. The adoptions spread to children across the world including Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the United States, along with Canada.
Survivors of the ’60s Scoop are now adults trying to unite with their birth families and communities _ a part of this journey is looking for an identity and to understand where they belong.
Healing the Family Within is part of healing from the disruptions of residential schools, the ’60s Scoop, the reserve pass system and other forms of trauma that have affected Indigenous families and communities, Tacan said.
These interruptions broke the cycle of traditional Indigenous parenting and have left a lasting historical trauma in communities.
Survivors need validation, Tacan said, validation of the hurt, losses and grief they experienced, along with recognition of the strengths and wisdom they still carry.
The goal of Healing the Family Within is to bring those teachings back, this includes talking about the sacredness of life, sharing sacred creation stories and celebrating the place of children as Wankazi, “the little sacred ones.”
Indigenous people want to bring back these practices and teachings as part of the healing process from the ’60s Scoop, she added, breaking the damaging cycle of colonization.
“Colonization is not over, we know that. It’s still continuing on today,” Tacan said.
It is a challenging situation because many grandparents and parents are survivors of residential schools or the ’60s Scoop and never had the opportunity to grow up in a loving home and community.
It has created a challenging situation because for many, they were taken away as children old enough to remember their real homes, but after spending time away never felt like they could fit in again, Tacan said.
“That bonding and attachment are not there. So they come back and they start raising families and they don’t have those parenting skills,” Tacan said.“
Through the process of colonization Indigenous youth were pushed to embrace western perspectives and values that looked down on teachings that had been treated as sacred for countless generations, she said.
Speaking as a ’60s Scoop survivor, Tacan said, she needs that foundation to understand what parenting is, what her children need, understanding the stages of development because she was not taught this growing up.
’60s Scoop survivors were sent to homes that in many cases were non-Indigenous and learned the basics of family life through western perspectives. This led to a painful loss and separation from their Indigenous culture and communities.
These traumas have been internalized and led to negative stereotypes that need to be unpacked to help change survivors’ worldviews.
Teaching traditional parenting helps survivors come back to their culture, she said, while reaffirming their Indigenous identity and place in the community.
“We all have our idea and our thoughts about a family and we’re healing that family that we carry within the side of ourselves. We carry hurt, we carry wounds because of a result of what happened to our families,” Tacan said. “We’re helping them to know their identity, to know who they are because a lot of them feel lost.”
Chelsea Kemp is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the BRANDON SUN. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI government funding.