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Silence to Strength, Writings and Reflections
on the Sixties Scoop
Reviewed by MariJo Moore
2023 is the 30th anniversary of
Kegedonce Press, (located in Ontario, CN)
a publisher of Indigenous authors. One of
their most recent publications is an
anthology titled Silence to Strength,
Writings and Reflections on the Sixties
Scoop, edited by Christine Miskonoodinkwe
Smith. The anthology is a collection of
contributions from 17 Sixties Scoop
survivors from across the territories of
Canada. By sharing their stories, they
are bringing an end to the silence
concerning the abuse of Indigenous
peoples, and are offering strength to
others, as well as gaining strength themselves.
From the 1960s through the 1980s the Canadian Children’s Aid Society engaged in a large-scale program of taking First Nations children from their families and communities and adopting them out to non-Indigenous families. This systemic abduction of untold thousands of children came to be known as the Sixties Scoop. Stories and poems of the intergenerational disruption from loss of family and culture are shared in this collection, as are stories of strength and survival.
“Words” - a poem concerning adoption by Tyler Pennock - begins the collection. Below is an excerpt of this beautiful haunting poem:
a shape softening
replacing true things
with whatever your
mind can muster
so the light can enter
The stories included are just as powerful and heart touching. In Doreen Parenteau’s story “Recollections Of A Sixties Scoop Survivor,” she relates that “sharing my story serves as a healing tool for me. It helps me to be able to acknowledge and understand the trauma, the identity and cultural loss that I have endured by getting it out on paper and out of my head.Even though it was many years ago it wasn't until recently (2020) that I have been strong enough to learn and heal from it.”
Indeed, the creative art of writing is a very important healing tool, not only for these writers, but for those who read and relate. And for those who want to know the historical truth of how the Canadian government treated these families. Not only are the contributors survivors, by sharing their stories, they are also thrivers. I applaud all for their candidness and willingness to share.
This is an excellent collection and I recommend it to all who are interested in learning the truth about Indigenous Peoples by reading what they have written, not what has been written about them by non- Indigenous writers.
The striking cover art is by George Littlechild, also a survivor of the Sixties Scoop.
MariJo Moore, Cherokee, is the author of 27 books including the anthology Power of the Storm-Indigenous Voices, Visions, and Determination dedicated to John Trudell, and 11 Conjured Stories