Sixties Scoop stories touch hearts in High Prairie

High Prairie Municipal Library hosted an experiential exercise by the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta [SSISA] on Oct. 17. Standing left-right, are Kaylee Calliou, SSISA treasurer Sandra Relling, SSISA president Adam North Peigan, High Prairie RCMP S/Sgt. Warren Wright, SSISA vice-president Sharon Gladue, SSISA treasurer Lorraine Champagne and Jenny-Leigh Solomon, Alberta Health Services health promotions for the High Prairie area.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Stories written by Indigenous survivors of the Sixties Scoop tugged at the hearts during a unique exercise Oct. 17 in High Prairie.

About 12 people took part in the exercise at the High Prairie Municipal Library, hosted by the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta [SSISA].

“We developed an experiential exercise that allows people to live and walk through the life of a Sixties Scoop survivor and experience the atrocities they went through,” says SSISA president Adam North Peigan, a survivor himself.

“Our goal is to be able to open the thinking of our non-Indigenous brothers and sisters when it comes to the Sixties Scoop, so we can influence attitudes that fuel racism in our communities towards Indigenous people.”

High Prairie was the eighth stop on the tour of Alberta.

The Sixties Scoop refers to a time from the late 1951-91 when an unknown number of Indigenous children were taken from their parents and communities by child intervention services and placed with mostly non-Indigenous families.

“The Sixties Scoop affected all Indigenous communities and the High Prairie area is no different,” says society vice-president Sharon Gladue.

“Lawyers inform us that there were more than 125,000 Sixties Scoop survivors and only 25,000 of us left.”

No official documents record the number of children apprehended.

Exercise participants were touched as they read the detailed and emotional stories.

Several teared up as they read and heard the gruesome and graphic details. Survivors wrote they felt a loss of identity, culture, heritage, home, family, security, will to live, innocence and language.

Participants say they welcomed the opportunity to learn more about the Indigenous culture and history.

Reflecting on the exercise, participants say it is “incredibly valuable”, “powerful” and “emotional”.

“I look at it as a stepping stone to achieve reconciliation,” SSISA treasurer Sandra Relling says.”

People agreed it is important for victims and survivors to share their traumatic stories with family and friends to help them heal.

North Peigan says it’s vital for all cultures to understanding and respect each other and have empathy.

“We’re all good people,” North Peigan says.

“We need to spread the word to non-Indigenous people.”

Gladue added several quotes that can be helpful in any healing process.

“Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about,” said Steven Atkinson.

“There is truth in our pain, there is growth in our pain, but only if it’s first brought out in the open.”

She states another quote by Dr. Jane Simington.

“One cannot remain in their grief; one must hnnour their grieving time, but more importantly, they must return to the here and now.”

For more information on the Sixties Scoop or the Alberta organization, visit the society website at www.ssisa.ca.

Participants read the stories written by several Sixties Scoop survivors on a large map of western Canada. Left-right, are one of the readers, High Prairie Native Friendship Centre executive director Kelly Chalifoux and Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta vice-president Sharon Gladue.

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