The awkward moment when the school you can’t afford to apply to starts following your twitter handle.
Canada can steal over 20,000 #sixtiesscoop Indigenous children from their families & write articles on just how resilient their social workers are.
Oki and Hello Chris, thank you for having me on your show.
Niistowaakoak Sarah Scout ~ Assimilated Ego, Niitstitannnihkiyakii kii, Niitsitapi.
I am Sarah Scout ~ Assimilated Ego, Lone Singer Woman and (part of) the Real People. It is good that I am able to be here today.
I am a Nitsitapi Blackfoot writer, Indigenous artivist and 80s scoop survivor.
From 2000 – 2002 I attended Lethbridge Community College where I studied print journalism and communication arts. My work has been published in print mediums such as The Endeavour, The Lethbridge Herald, Say, Beatroute Magazine, Lastrealindians.com and (most recently) Numéro Cinq Magazine. From November 2006-February 2009 I was the managing editor of New Tribe Magazine. I founded the Aboriginal Writers Circle Calgary in 2007, creating this group for Aboriginal writers, authors and storytellers to come together in celebration and exploration of the written word and oral storytelling tradition – until its retirement in 2014. I also create and distribute my own independent zines which document personal anecdote, stories, life writing experience and poetry in a mixed collage of black and white photography and graphic design. I was the winner of the Royal Bank of Canada Aboriginal Student [two-year] scholarship in 2009. I studied at the University of Calgary in pursuit of my BA in English. And currently, I am writing my first life writing memoir (of working title) Incomplete Indian: The Indigenous Life Writings of Sarah Scout.
Most of this description in my writer’s bio has been easier for me to put down into words and keep track of, compared to the sort of buried alive bones or pieces of my past and childhood growing up a 80s and 90s scoop survivor. But it is through the writing process and memoir draft I feel I am exploring this question more and more.
Regarding my life writing and memoir draft so far, my aim has been to pen a personal account of growing up one of the 80s Scoop Survivors in southern Alberta. Being a young Blackfoot woman who contends with prolonged separation, displacement from family, land, extended relations, language and culture while navigating a hostile aggressive assimilation legacy in child welfare’s ‘care’.
Disclaimer: I don’t presume to speak for all of my sisters, nor do I speak for all child welfare or scoop survivors and their individual or particular experiences. I do however, relate and speak for myself, my memories, feelings, observations, reflections and opinions and I am reporting and information sharing some of the research I have come across so far.
It sometimes feels like I am from everywhere and nowhere; but logistically speaking, I was born in Spokane, Washington in 1981 and was scooped from my mom in 1982. I was a year old and was scooped with my four sisters.
My baby sister, a newborn at the time, was placed in a home separate from ours.
We were placed in a white middle class american foster home, with a family, whom I believe, were looking to adopt.
My memories are foggy, to say the least of these really early scoop years; but I think that first placement was temporary and a sort of trail period for that white foster family, so they could decide if they felt like keeping us or not.
I don’t know exactly all the details, but they weren’t exactly forthcoming with their intentions either.
I do remember being severely abused (alongside my sister Kara) in that first foster placement, the social services called home.
I was singled out and placed with yet another foster home across town.
I don’t remember that foster parent’s name but she was an older white woman who had a pool in her backyard. She always wore this old lady type smelling lotion. She had bottles of it all over her house, and she was always combing and curling my hair to make me presentable; like I was her plastic doll or something.
Eventually, I was able to rejoin my older sisters.
This foster family began pressuring my mom to sign adoption papers by this time and she refused.
After this refusal, my mom was eventually able to take the four of us back to Canada with her—but before that happened, she approached the white foster family that was holding my baby sister. When my mom tried to get her baby back, they refused to let my baby sister go, even though my sister was still technically a foster baby, and not an adoptee.
I was later told that this white foster family threatened my mom; they said if she didn’t surrender her baby to them, they were going to get their lawyer and take her to court for a custody battle; and after they won their case, they said they wouldn’t stop until all of her girls had been taken away from her legally and forever.
It was clearly an intimidation tactic, but it must have been terrifying for my mom, pressuring her just enough to sign the adoption papers under duress.
This is only a small example of the systemic white privilege and abuse of power this child welfare agency and so-called family used against my mom to rob her baby from her.
So yes, my baby sister was adopted, but I believe she was scooped and stolen too.
I heard that woman, who stole my baby sister, had lost her own baby in childbirth like a year of so earlier, and I think the child welfare system just scooped all of us at once and must have been like,
“Oh….well here’s a free native baby girl you can have.”
This was heartbreaking and difficult for all of us to be forced to say good bye and leave without my little sister; but it was most horrific I think for my mom—a single mother, former residential school survivor, and foster care placement survivor herself.
My (I guess) migration to Canada was the rest of my families return, minus my baby sister.
My older sisters had been born in Vancouver (BC) and my sister Kara and my mom had been born in Cardston, Alberta—a small settler colonial town on Kainai / Blood reserve land that remains one of the largest unsettled land claims in Canada.
We stayed on the reserve with my mom for a little while until we were scooped again (only this time in canada), from our reservation child welfare agency working in conjunction with off reserve urban non-native child welfare and child family services.
I go into more detail of this experience in the ‘Born’ recording.
I think by the time I was eight years old, I had been placed in twelve or thirteen different foster home (dis)placements both on reserve and eventually off.
And through this constant relocating, moving and uprooting from so-called home to so-called home, my sisters and I slowly began to break down, accumulate and suffer a variety of abuses by the hands of many different people both native and non, until eventually we split further and further apart from each other and our mom.
There was no rhyme or reason to any of these placements. The social workers changed quicker than the homes themselves. To me, the foster so-called parents and their families were a blur. This constant moving and take back happened so many times, it was hard to keep every foster (dis)placement and their religion straight.
I would wake up in the middle of the night a lot, feeling scared and not knowing where I was. Like having night sweats and panic attacks, these were possible early symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD.
The social workers always manipulated and phrased things like they were our friend, and this was somehow our choice, that we had some sort of control over our futures; but now I know how manipulative they were being. I know now, they didn’t give a shit about us; that we were just another job, work experience and native child welfare case to them.
The truth is they were liars and thieves, and the erosion of our small family was orchestrated and played out from agency to agency like we were all just pawns in some one’s game of chess.
We did not choose what happened to us and we not want it.
As time went on, they and the system they represented just kept on breaking us down and breaking us apart, like a piece of wood that splinters smaller and smaller. At first there were five of us, then there were four, and then there was two, and then eventually there was just me.
That breaking down of my family was the worst, because I desperately wanted to hold on to all of them, to assure myself at least we were still together—that maybe everything could still be ok.
But it was never ok and this continued loss of family and sister always broke my heart, made me cry, like these quiet stifled cries, especially at night.
I learned not to show my emotions to anyone during the day. I would do all my chores and go to school and do whatever else was expected of me; but at night, when I couldn’t sleep, I always felt tremendously sad, it felt like my child spirit constantly wanted to head out, leave and go look for all the people that were no longer standing beside me.
Those apprehensions, were traumatic too every time they went down. I could never get used to them. Eventually I just started to expect them because no foster home, seemingly decent or bad seemed permanent.
There is a documentary called “Foster Shock” directed by Mari Fankel, it’s about Florida’s fostered youth and their reflective experiences during their time surviving the child welfare system.
In the Foster Shock trailer, one black male youth survivor describes it by saying, “…if you really go through it, it kinda feels like they are kidnapping you in the middle of the night. They’re putting you in a home and you don’t know anybody and they isolate you from your family members…”
– Foster Shock (2016) directed by Mari Frankel
Additionally, because I grew up a ward of the state and was scooped not only in the states but in canada too (several times over) I do not go out of my way to identify as a canadian or indigenous canadian, or american or native american, nor do I identify as an albertan or anything like that.
To me, the term foster care is an oxymoron and so is Indigenous canadian.
A scoop survivor is in reference to the 60s scoop and the decade and generational scoops that followed.
I’m talking 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and so on.
A scoop survivor is how I, myself, prefer to identify these days—I don’t think there is any official definition but, to me, it describes someone who survived the system of child welfare / CFS foster (dis)placement, group home, adoption and all its other systemic entities.
It’s been my experience that foster homes are really just micro-residential schools in disguise. And to survive (and sometimes not survive) being scooped, often means a child suffers and never walks away unscathed.
It’s really an enduring of institutionalized-style abuses and whatever else that system puts Indigenous children and youth through; and how harmful and un-natural that can all be.
I truly do believe that the foster care system is our generations’ residential schools. Shortly after college, my birth mother passed away, so I moved to Calgary and got a job as managing editor at New Tribe magazine and I wrote these thoughts into my January 2006 article called “Out of the System”.
I and three other participants were asked to speak at a Treaty 7 Child and Family Services and Siksika Family Services conference on the foster care experience panel. All of us shared our stories that I felt were strong, emotional and painful experiences endured while in care.
You can find the full article in my editorial New Tribe archives online, but even back then there was some awareness that Indigenous child apprehension numbers were on the rise.
So, at that time, I quoted Mary Ruth McDougall, who was a board member with the Piikani Child and Family Services who was in attendance at the foster care panel. She said:
“I have a deep concern since, in Alberta [Aboriginals] represent about eight or nine percent of the total population. Yet close to fifty percent of the children in care are Aboriginals….We have a lot of work that we need to do to hopefully reduce those percentages, and also help our children….The big thing that I learned is we have to start listening to them. Listen to them, don’t ignore them.”
Those numbers are even higher now. According to the Child Intervention Information and Statistics Summary 2014-2015 Fourth Quarter (March) Update report:
Out of a “In Care Total” of 6,987 children, 4,788 of those were “Aboriginal Children in Care” compared to only 2,199 who were “Non-Aboriginal”.
The report goes on to say:
“In March 2015, 69[percent] of children and youth receiving services in Care were Aboriginal. There has been a safe reduction of 9[percent] in the number of Aboriginal children in Care from Q4 2013/14.
According to the National Household Survey (2011), Aboriginal children make up approximately 10% of the child population (ages 0-19) in Alberta. In March 2015, they accounted for 69[percent] of the children In Care.”
So, if you take that fifty percent of Indigenous child apprehensions in Alberta that Mary talked about in 2006, and contrast it against the sixty-nine (almost seventy) percent reported in the Child Intervention Info and Stat Summary Fourth Quarter 2015 report, posted by alberta services. You will see that in just nine years the number of Indigenous / Aboriginal child apprehensions in Alberta increased by 20%.
If the Indigenous children apprehension rates continue to increase at this same rate, in less than ten years that number could increase to ninety percent.
And after that, when there are little to no more Indigenous children in Alberta to apprehend I predict we will begin to see the numbers of immigrant child apprehensions in Alberta begin to skyrocket and climb.
You can find a PDF version of the Child Intervention report in its entirety at:
To give some additional context and background in regards to the 60s Scoop, I want to throw you a small variety of definitions and article sites from CBC News, Koskie Minsky LLP Barristers and Solicitors Manitoba, and the Canadian Encyclopedia.
In Ainslie MacLellan’s article, “Sixties Scoop still not well-recognized, aboriginal adoptees say” which was posted on March 16th of last year via (CBC News), MacLellan identifies 60s Scoop origin, and writes:
“…the term Sixties Scoop was coined by a B.C. Social worker, Bridget Mora, who was concerned about how child welfare services were dealing with aboriginal children. “She told a colleague that they were literally scooping children from their homes without any valid reasons,” said Raven Sinclair, associate professor of social work at the University of Regina in Saskatoon, and herself a Sixties Scoop adoptee. Sinclair said the phenomenon began as residential schools started to shut down. At the same time, provinces began taking over child welfare responsibility from the federal government. Between the 1950s and the end of the 1960s, she said the percentage of children in care who were aboriginal skyrocketed from less than one percent to roughly 40 per cent.”
This next definition, I came across through social media information sharing, it’s from the firstname.lastname@example.org and reads:
“Attention First Nations people: from 1960 to 1989 all First Nation and Metis people (.) they are calling it the 60’s Scoop: Anyone who was (taken) who was raised in a white home or child aid or today they call it CFS (child family services). They will be paid out the same as those in residential school. They need your name and address and all information (from) the first time you were placed in a foster home. Please share this post with everyone who is First Nations. We all will be heard. Koskie Minsky LLP Barristers and Solicitors…Manitoba.”
And finally from the Canadian Encyclopedia website:
“The “Sixties Scoop” refers to the large-scale removal or “scooping” of Indigenous children from their homes, communities and families of birth through the 1960s, and their subsequent adoption into predominantly non-Indigenous, middle-class families across the United States and Canada. This experience left many adoptees with a lost sense of cultural identity. The physical and emotional separation from their birth families continues to affect adult adoptees and Indigenous communities to this day.
The “Scooping” of Indigenous Children, 1951-80s
Patrick Jonston, a researcher for the Canadian Council on Social Development, first used the term “Sixties Scoop” in his 1983 report on Indigenous children in the child welfare system, entitle Native Children and the Child Welfare System. In the report, Johnston describes the large scale apprehension of Indigenous children in the 1960s from their homes, communities and families of birth—often without their parents’ or band’s consent—and their subsequent adoption into predominantly non-Indigenous families across the United States and Canada. The Sixties Scoop was not an isolated event propelled by inferior Indigenous parenting, but rather an extension of paternalistic policies in Canada that sought the assimilation of Indigenous cultures and communities.”
In the media, and I’m sure some academic journals, there are more resources now on scoop survivors and particularly 60s Scoop survivor stories gaining track, but I think there should be way more access to this information for the public like a national data base.
On the Stats Can website, I could not find accessible data regarding the 60s Scoop. Nor do the provinces seem to be stepping up either to meaningfully engage this history and continuing crisis, neither is the federal government calling for any real change, abolition or serious over haul.
Before I transitioned from elementary school to junior high, there were a couple golden moments that seemed to sway me toward an eventual career around writing.
To even think that I could have a future beyond the foster care system, was a difficult concept to believe in due to the childhood eternity I had spent being mistreated, abused and aggressively assimilated under child welfare’s care.
Literacy was very likely my saving grace of sorts, I think because of the healthy escapism and fantasy a lot of authors write into kid books. That little bit of healthy escape became critical for my child brain, spirit and remaining mental health.
During recess and over the lunch hour, I started hanging out at the school library. I was usually the loner kid sitting in between booked shelves cross legged on the floor but happily hunched over a book; a good book had the ability to take me away to a safe, magical and comforting literary universe.
My older sister Kara encouraged me to read to her out loud sometimes, but also found me strange when I’d burst into tears if a literary character I loved was suddenly killed off in a story. Soon she was giving me teen novels like, The Contender by Robert Lipstye. Books that were a little bit more advanced and from her junior high library a few blocks up the road from my school.
Before I moved onto junior high, my elementary school principal and sometimes gym teacher, Mr. Paskuski took notice of me during recess once, I was struggling to sink a basketball into its hoop. So, he taught me basic hand-eye coordination, stance, where to plant my feet and follow through until I got the hang of it.
Before he continued his supervision with the rest of the kids, he asked me what it was I wanted to be when I grew up.
I told him I wanted to be a writer.
And he said, “Oh, so you want to be a starving artist.”
Then I said, “No. I want to be a writer.”
And he said, “Well Sarah, the only writers who are not starving artists are newspaper reporters. Do yourself a favor when the time comes and go into print journalism.”
Then I said OK.
And when the time came, I did.
I also read Stephen King’s IT when I was twelve going on thirteen, and that had a huge influence on me. It is most definitely one of my favorite books of all time. And Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet were great too.
I am retired from print journalism now and editing, but I still have all those college boot camp skills they drilled into us. I use those retired skills now to promote my own story, art and writing.
Well externally, I would have to say I have found some of the most influential and fascinating artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians to be people like: Everett Soop, Edgar Allen Poe, Joanna Brand, Franz Fanon, Cheryl Blood, Anita Heiss, Quese IMC, Leslie Marmon Silko, Phillip K. Dick, Dalton Trumbo, Sherman Alexie, Wanda John-Kehewin (who wrote In The Dog House), Charles Bukowski, Lenny Bruce, Chuck Palahniuk, Roald Dahl, Gordon Sinclair Jr., Allen Ginsberg, Ray Bradbury, Howard Adams, Yvonne Johnson, Stephen King, J.D. Salinger Malcolm X, Mumia Abu Jamal, Connie Fife, Alan Ball (the creator of Six Feet Under), Spike Lee (who film Bamboozled I think is brilliant and way ahead of its time), David Lynch, Hunter S. Thompson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Susan Sontag, the late Arthur Manuel and Richard Wagamese (who will be and are being sorely missed), Jackson Pollock, Ernest Hemmingway and Martha Gellhorn, Mariee Sioux and Nina Simone to name a few.
In my early twenties just as I was going into print journalism, I also lived with a lot of local (Lethbridge) artists, musicians, just a lot of transient creative people; cartoonists, zinesters, punk and indie musicians, visual and video artists – so there was a lot of creative happenings and creativity in the air.
In a more day-to-day I’d say my own external influences would also include: old photos of my younger self (because I have no baby photos at all, I think the youngest photo I have is from 1987, when I was in another foster home being bused to a primary school in cardston, alberta) and old photos of my family that remain and also family who have passed away, the land and history particularly Blackfoot territory, ‘home’ not only as a concept but actual home, conversing with people who didn’t grow up in a traumatic way and just seeing how much we can talk to one another and try to relate – until we really just can’t relate anymore, if people don’t know me or ask about who I am or where I come from, a lot of the time they’ll just assume I have some sort of privileged background because of the way I look, do a job, or communicate. So they will converse with me some of the time and I’ll just listen but if the conversation is more of a personal nature and “normal” upbringing that involves family and heritage etc. – there’s only so much I can listen to without just kind of really not being able to relate or know what they are talking about. And vice-versa I’m sure, so conversing with people can be a challenge sometimes.
Some more external influences for me would be: issues affecting indigenous peoples in canada, education and sociology, English, the Blackfoot language and people, literature, pop culture, graphic design, art and photography, supports for scoop and residential school survivors, books, films, the civil rights and resistance movements throughout history and even the English dictionaries and old encyclopedias in spite of their bias and colonialisms which I usually read with a grain of salt.
One example this colonialism I found was in the revised and updated Webster’s New World Dictionary (2003) that had the word “Abominate” followed by “Aboriginal” followed by “Aborigine”; so it goes “abominate regard as an ill, omen, to hate; loathe, to dislike very much, abomination, aboriginal, existing (in a region) from the beginning; first; indigenous, of aborigines, an aborigine.”
My internal influences would include things like memory, and the excavation of memories repressed or those blurred things from the past I just have more difficulty remembering. Silences, be they colonized or beaten down or assimilated silences. If not for these types of silences, I think our reserves and urban communities would be a lot healthier. I know I would have been able to get to know my mom as a human being so much more, than in the short time I had been able to when she was alive; and if she had gotten the help I think she so desperately needed. The same goes for my sister Kara who became schizophrenic just as she was aging out of the foster care system.
Emotions have had an internal influence on me, and exploring the depth of feeling I have about everything I am today and have survived and lived through. With this exploration of emotion came PTSD triggers as well, something I had that went undiagnosed until my university years.
Therapy was also helpful to me both internally and externally in regards to my PTSD and some after effects of living an childhood under child welfare’s care that had institutionalized style abuses; in particularly aging out of and surviving the last foster home I had lived in for thirteen years which was colonized, neo assimilated and very narcissistic in nature.
I’d say the therapies that helped me most were therapies like EMDR (which for those who aren’t familiar stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is defined as (quote) “an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and many other mental health problems.”
And you can find more about that at https://emdrcanada.org/emdr-defined/
And lastly, mindfulness and positive affirmations, and other internal influences like Worldview and Values, my inner writers’ voice, dreams and so on.
And I also want to add:
That, my feeling, in regards to my (more current) decolonizing and scoop survival writing is that I really want to stress is that – I did not survive to appease any one social or youth worker, foster so-called-parent or their relation, or child welfare or CFS connected agencies they represent – whom all exploited and profited with off the backs of not only myself but several other Indigenous scoop children that were housed who I also saw growing under child welfare’s care. I do not create or write because of any of them, today, I create and write in spite.
Assimilated Ego really started out as an offhand comment with me just kidding around saying I wanted to start an Indigenous riot-grrl type scream band, to scream out all this genocidal pain and actually get paid for it, so I said, you know we could call ourselves the “Assimilated Egos”.
And the name stuck with me, but the band idea just never got off the ground. So today, it is part of my signature, handle and pen name and is also the title of an annual zine I put out as well as a Facebook page that explores navigating ones cultural assimilation in canada, so mostly from an Indigenous, Black and peoples-of-color perspective.
Some of my poetry was published earlier this year in Numéro Cinq Magazine or NC Magazine, Vol.VIII, No.2, which was release in the February 2017 issue.
They are calling these the ‘Genocide poems’ and that includes my poem “No Genocide” which I dedicated to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, as well as my poems: Paper Dreams of My Mother, Bannock, Assimilate, and A Way.
People can read these poems and more at http://numerocinqmagazine.com/2017/02/06/genocide-poems-sarah-scout/.
I was also invited to do a reading with authors Lorri Neilsen Glenn and Cathy Ostlere which was a lot of fun, it was called RAW: Three Writers Reading Works-in-Progress. So I read from my draft, ‘Incomplete Indian’ as well as some of my published poetry, Cathy read from her work-in-progress “The Girl Who Begged For Bread” and Lorri read from “Her Many Names” which was published just this year. So it was a real honour to be part of that.
And Cathy was even nice enough to write me afterwards my first good review and feedback about my writing and she wrote:
There is so much to say about your reading last night and yet finding the right words to honour your experience and your work seems so daunting. But I will try. One of the things that stood out for me was the ease in your authorial voice. As a storyteller, you gathered us around and created pictures of your experience. You dipped in and out of memory and time. There were so many spaces in your work, spaces where I yearned for more, and ashamed that I did not already know many of the things that you were speaking of. I am hungry for your story, hungry for the voice that clarifies with such crystalline prose how your heart is. The tension in your story is palpable but like a true storyteller you keep your listeners calm, not intending to shock or frighten us — just saying your truth, a long truth that belongs to your ancestors, your family. It was a deep honour to have the privilege of listening to your life. I offer all the encouragement as you write your story and bring it to light in the world.”
And she goes on to write: “I’d like you to know that I am behind you and your history bursting to be told. The larger world is waiting for this story. Please let me know when you speak again. All the best…”
So, to date that’s the best review I’ve gotten so far and something I find really encouraging, especially coming from an actual author something I aspire to be and continue to work toward.
A lot of my current work goes into my draft. I finally have my own writing system developed and story map, rather than an actual story outline; this approach I think works better for me.
To honor the anniversary of my mother’s passing, I can’t always travel directly to her gravesite, so this year I made a short art series called Honoring Looks Cold Woman, dedicated to my late mother, Caroline Gloria Scout CH Striped Wolf to honour her life and the remaining memories and photos I do have.
I’m considering writing an essay on the Appropriation Prize if I have the time. However I did also found The Indigenous Resistance Writers website (which can be found on Twitter and Facebook as well) I founded this to amplify space for all past, present and future Indigenous writers, and storytellers.
I also launched The Zines of Sarah Scout ~ Assimilated Ego (WordPress) website, another creative archive where people can follow my zine journey straight out of high school to present day.
On here, you will find:
* Outcast by Choice (1999)
* Outcast by Choice: A Choice of Futures Waiting to Happen (2000)
* Jack Rubber (2001)
* Indian Graveyard (2003)
* Assimilated Ego: The Beginning (2007)
* Sarah’s Zine Art featured in ArtBox Gallery’s Uncovering Colonial Legacies: Voices of Indigenous Youth in Child Welfare (dis)placement exhibit: (2014)
* Assimilated Ego (2015)
* Looks Cold Woman (2015)
* Honoring Looks Cold Woman (2016)
* Assimilated Ego (2017) – TBA
If people want to support I am now accepting donations now via PayPal: http://bit.ly/2r7C0QY</a
So check out my site. If you enjoy what you see, and want to donate, click the PayPal link and enter your amount.
All donators will get a shout out from me via Twitter and a thank you mention in my final manuscript and published life writing memoir.
People can find me on twitter, my handle is Sarah Scout @Assimilated_Ego and Indigenous Writers @IndigWriters. I also run Facebook pages: Assimilated Ego, Decolonize Mohkinsstsisi, The Indigenous Resistance Writers, Sarah Scout: Niitsitapi Blackfoot Writer page and Scoop Survivors of the 80s and 90s: Indigenous Resilience and Spirit.
On WordPress, I have a Sarah Scout ~ Assimilated Ego blog, a New Tribe Magazine: The Sarah Scout Archives 12/06 – 02/09 site, The Indigenous Resistance Writers website that amplifies space for all past, present and future Indigenous writers, authors and storytellers. And most recently, The Zines of Sarah Scout for those who want to follow my zine journey and creative archives, it is all there. Donators interested in supporting my work can donate on this site via PayPal.
And now anyone can listen to my selected on-going draft readings, poetry and memoir in progress on: https://soundcloud.com/assimilatedego
No child should die in a foster “home”, adopted “home” or group “home”. Home is not a place where children are supposed to be dying. My condolences and prayers are with the families whose children have died in care.
If you are an Indigenous reporter reporting on the 60s Scoop, you don’t have to name them the “so-called-60s-scoop” just because the rest of mainstream non-Indigenous canadian media does. Believe the survivors, listen to their voices, and believe their stories. They are just getting started.
Pay attention to the language use around the enormity of this crisis because the media is coining the 60s Scoop, scoop survivors and those who didn’t survive, The Lost Tribe; saying we lost our culture, we lost our language, but I don’t think we lost any of these things, I believe they were was taken from us. Just like we were taken from our parents and families.
If you are or believe you qualify as a Scoop Survivor, be it from the 60s Scoop or decade and generational scoops that continued to be apprehended, there are things you can do to take action:
Document your memories, join an information sharing and support group, and reach out to other survivors and organizations like the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network.
Do some walking, research on your own and see where that leads you. For some 60s Scoop survivors I’ve read online, joining class action suits are an option; some even document and share where their journey goes from there.
There is also a requestor FOIP option – Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy forms you can fill out to request records and agency documents noted during your time in care.
In 2015 I was in conversations with an advocate from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate/Alberta
There were advices and a FOIP link that was forwarded to her, which was passed on to me: and indicated a requestor can find the FOIP page main link at http://www.servicealberta.ca/foip/ [this info obviously varies for each province].
Colleen Hagel from the Advocate Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, noted:
“If you click on Resources TAB then click on FORMS on this [foip/resources/forms] page – http://www.servicealberta.ca/foip/resources/forms.cfm
(it is recommended) “….that the requestor speak with someone at the office to ensure the requestor is specific enough in their request for information: like specific time frames, Contact notes, Any assessment documents including intake investigation, Safety Assessments and InfoCons or On-going Assessments, even Medical information and Legal information.”
On a more artsy note, check out Kent Monkman’s exhibit “Shame and prejudice: A Story of Resilience” particularly his painting The Scream which shows “Indigenous children being taken away from their families” by Catholic Church and RCMP (church and state).
So please find a way to join or find a way to show your support.
My advice for writers would be to go deeper, keep it up and keep at it, we are not all (and we do not all have to be) Indigenous academic writers, don’t confuse empowerment with entitlement, stay authentic to your spirit and voice inside, stay humble but stay fierce.
If you are an Indigenous person surviving adversity, and happen to have more than one voice inside of you, listen to it, writing may just be the best possible outlet or career choice that could work for you.
Don’t give up. Never stop reading, never stop writing, never stop creating, and never stop dreaming.
I met Chuck Palahniuk once, years ago when I was working at the (former) McNally Robinson Booksellers independent bookstore in Calgary.
I asked him to sign a copy of his novel “Fight Club” for me, because I loved the movie and had been in a fight club myself growing up in foster homes on the reserve; and he asked me how exactly he should inscribe the book.
I was a little stumped and kinda felt put on the spot because usually authors aren’t that challenging or forward when signing their book for you. Most just ask for the spelling of your name and it’s over with.
He thought about it for a second, and said “Oh! I know! But you can’t read it until I leave.”
I swore I wouldn’t read it until he left.
He scribbled something down, slammed the cover shut and slid his book over to me.
He left the bookstore almost as fast as when he came in.
And when I finally opened the cover, inside, it read:
We don’t write to make friends.
So every time I sit down to write, I try to remember these words.
Because, Indigenous survivor stories shouldn’t be about making other people feel comfortable first; the adversities we and our relations have been subjected to, suffered and have overcome have never been comfortable.
For a long time, it was easier for me to go out into the world and be a writer who writes and publishes, than it ever was being an Indigenous Woman existing a scoop survivor’s life in Canada.
These days, when I am able to reassemble enough pieces of shattered mirror inside my mind, I can see a clearer reflection. And most often, it is the little girl and the writer looking back at me.
Today, I am proud to be both, if not more. I am proud to call myself a writer, and actually have the hard work and years behind me to back that up.
And though I am still flawed in many ways, I am proud to be Niitsitapi and to be able to re-claim my Indigenous identity and resiliency. So thank you to all those who have helped me along the way.
And thank you Chris Mac, for not only encouraging me in my Sound Cloud recordings, but for inviting me on your show.
Shout out to: All the brave Sixties Scoop Survivors and those still suffering at the hands of the child welfare system, The Skoden Chronicles and Freddy Stoneypoint, PhilaPrint, to my immediate family especially my sisters – thank you for being there for me, to Kara, CharlieScout Bobby FAF on Soundcloud, Sam Bob, Kainai Represent Gene Brave Rock and all his success with the Wonder Woman film, Indigenous Zinesters and creative POCs of the underground, Margaret D. Jacobs, FIRE: Fight Institutional Racism Everywhere, Russ Diabo and Stephen John Ford, the late Rose Yellow Feet and my late Isstuuitum, to all unsung Indigenous writers throwing it down.
Song request (if possible): Four Women by Nina Simone and Pat Benetar’s Hell Is For Children.
Yeah, I’m working on making @jonkay feel more comfortable too.
National Post @nationalpost
@jonkay on the tyranny of Twitter: How mob censure is changing the intellectual landscape http://bit.ly/2rW3U3Z
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I call this the ‘CAN-150-CON’
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