Friday, December 9, 2022

FROM RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL TO THE SIXTIES SCOOP

The Circles on Indigenous Worldviews series is part of IofC Canada’s commitment to promote learning and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and to give voice to those who say, ‘The truth has to be told’.

On November 22, 2022, our guest speaker for this series was Kimberley Joy, who spoke about her personal experience with Residential Schools and being adopted as part of the 'Sixties Scoop'. Click HERE to watch the recording of this presentation.

Kim began life on Oneida of the Thames, part of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy in Southern Ontario. Kim told us that “At birth my Mom and I had a 50/50 chance of survival. The preacher approached my Dad and asked, ‘If there is a choice which one would you rather save? My Dad’s response was ‘Save them both!’” When you hear Kim tell her story, one cannot help but believe she was born with a special purpose in life.

After attending Kindergarten and Residential School until the age of 12 years, Kim was put in the program called The Sixties Scoop. Wikipedia describes the ‘Sixties Scoop’ as 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 best way to tell Kim’s story is in her own words as written below:

 

FIGHT TO THE END

The resilience of a survivor is something that needs to be talked about.

My story is a story of resilience and determination, also courage and willpower to survive at any cost regardless of the punishment.

The memories of having the physical abuse, the emotional abuse and the verbal abuse has forever changed me.

They done everything they could to ‘kill the Indian in the child’ but all they did was make an unbreakable child who survived and I am still here today to tell my story.

They tried to break me but it only made me stronger.

Much love to all the ones that had went/gone through the systems that they called:

Indian Residential School

Federal Indian Day School

The Sixties Scoop

Family and Children’s Services

 

IMPRISONED

She was locked away without the key

She’s been hiding away from all to see

Stuck inside the prison of her mind

She longed for freedom she couldn’t find.

Her tortured, hollowed heart was broken

Carrying the burden of pain unspoken

Not a soul allowed in, not a soul allowed out

Never to be heard without a shadow of a doubt.

No one could hurt her if she didn’t let them in

All alone in the dark but, she still couldn’t win

At times, we hide when we’ve been hurt before

Not wanting anyone to open our heart’s door.

But, without the dark, we wouldn’t see the light

And without a spark, not knowing what’s in sight

We must face the shadows full with strength

Traveling through no matter the length.

Unlock the door to your tortured soul

It’s the only way to heal and start to feel whole.

 

TAKE SOME BLAME

To whom it may concern

To the one without a face or a name

Here’s a letter from a ‘Crown-ward’ of yours

Who carries your whole system’s shame.

You pulled me away from my parents

This I accept and I understand

But while I was taking this journey

Who was there to hold my hand?

I was told that I ‘belonged’ to you

It was your job to watch me grow

But I don’t think you were able to ‘see’ me

With so much moving to and fro.

I was quiet and shy and unsocial

Distrusting everyone as I grew

You were blind to all the bruises then

Please don’t be blind to the scars now too

In your care I learnt my value

I learnt my lesson, my worth, my place

In short I learnt I was not a child

But simply another hopeless case.

So I write this letter to you

And ask for you to take some blame

But I cannot sign it ‘sincerely’

When you left me in so much pain.

 

MOVING FORWARD

If I learnt anything in my life, it’s that sometimes the darkest times can bring us to the brightest places.

That our most painful struggles can grant us the most necessary growth.

That what seemed like a curse in the moment can actually be a blessing and no matter how bad things seem there is always hope.

No matter how powerless we feel or how horrible things seem, we can’t give up.

We have to keep going, even when it’s scary, even when all our strength has gone, we have to keep moving forward.

Whatever we’re battling in the moment, it will pass and we’ll make it through.

We’ve made it this far.

We can make it through whatever comes next.

Kimberley Joy

November 2022