Archive for February, 2017

Tears Tonight for a Great Canadian Humourist
February 15, 2017

In late 1980 through the mid 1990s, I worked as an Education Officer for the Ministry of Education of Ontario out of Thunder Bay. My territory covered a large portion of that part of Ontario-about the same size as all of southern Ontario. It meant many long lonely hours on the road.

neys-lookout-001-a

Neys Lookout at the mouth of the Pic River

Just me and my truck and trees and rocks and breathtaking vistas along Hwy 17 along the north shore of Lake Superior. And, marvelling at the difference of the land on the northern run along Hwy 11 alongside the Palisades through Beardmore and Geraldton to Hearst and Iroquois Falls. It was quiet. Just the sound of the  tires on the road and the and the thrum of the powerful 7.3 Litre diesel engine for company. I learned to enjoy the solitude and the time to ponder all of the amazing things that were and are my life.

I wrote many papers in my head on those long journeys and as the technology improved dictated them to my computer as I drove. A dinner theatre script here, a manual to do something or other there, a script for a video. When that wore thin, I turned to my radio, dialed in CBC Radio One to listen to Stuart McLean on the Vinyl Cafe.

Stuart McLean was a master story teller; a person I aspired to be like. Stuart caused many kilometres to vanish beneath the tires of my ride and I spent five wonderful years of my life relishing his every word in the newest of his stories about Dave and Morley and their kids Sam and Stephanie. His skill with language and rhythm of the story forced me off the road frequently in gales of laughter about Dave’s misadventures. It was safer for both myself and the on-coming traffic that I made this choice. He was Canada’s Garrison Keillor.

Today, it was announced that Stuart McLean died and I felt a lament rise in my heart. My prayers are with you this night as I reminisce our times together on the long and wondrous journey of the highway of my life. Thank you for the lessons in Dave Cooks the Turkey. May God’s Spirit raise you up and release you from the agony of your illness dear friend of the road. The world is a much emptier place because of your absence in it.

 

The Sixties Scoop…
February 15, 2017

My wife and I are the parents of an adopted First Nations Child whose adoption took place within the time-frame of the legal action against the Canadian Government titled The Sixties Scoop. Details of the class action suit can be viewed here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixties_Scoop. This action, on behalf of indigenous children adopted by non-indigenous families, has been eight years in the process with the Canadian Government taking all legal actions available to avoid having this case heard. The absolute shame was the federal Government wanting to avoid the judgement to enable them to settle out of court-to set aside 8 years of process. I shake my head at our arrogance in attempting to avoid justice in this case.

Government asks judge to postpone ruling in ’60s Scoop case, outraging plaintiffs

This is a case more directly aligned with the concept of cultural genocide than about any other explanation, in my opinion. It is about the assimilation of indigenous children into the society of the day and is an off-shoot of the Residential Schools program in Canada that had it’s roots in “1860[,] Indian Affairs is transferred from the Imperial Government to the Province of Canada. This is after the Imperial Government shifts its policy from fostering the autonomy of native populations through industry to assimilating them through education. (see A timeline of Residential Schools)” In reality it began in the 1600s and the process of assimilation continued well into the late 1900s.

It saddens me that we, my wife and I,  were complicit in the continuation of this abominable program out of our ignorance as non-indigenous adoptive parents and the failure of the Canadian government and its agencies to inform us of their and our responsibilities to our child to maintain her cultural identity. The good news is we live on the doorstep of two First Nations communities, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Pic Mobert and many of our children’s classmates and friends were indigenous children. By osmosis, for want of a better term, our child spent considerable time in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg community with her best friends family. She was one of the lucky ones regularly exposed to her indigenous culture more by luck-of-the draw than by intent on our part or that of the Canadian Government.

I am overjoyed that the courts brought this case to fruition and yesterday, Valentine’s Day 2017 the “Federal government [was] found to have breached its “duty of care” by failing to protect cultural identity of indigenous children removed from their homes”. That we decided to add our voices to this cause, for justice for our adoptive child and all of the children of the Sixties Scoop, as witnesses for the plaintiff might have some small influence on this decision, helps to begin the healing process of right relations between us and our indigenous 10687098_10154816122320118_1482540786689546829_nneighbours and to apologize to our child for our ignorance.

Today, our chosen child is a strong beautiful First Nations woman who has chosen a career path to help other First Nations women of Northwestern Ontario reach their potential as healthy, proud indigenous women. As an aside, I was listening to a piece of music yesterday when a text arrived from a contact at the hearing to say the Judge ruled in favour of the Sixties scoop. The song happened to be Shed a Little Light performed by James Taylor. A prophetic moment indeed.