Sixties Scoop survivors share stories on their discovery of being Indigenous - APTN NewsAPTN News

Sixties Scoop survivors share stories on their discovery of being Indigenous



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Todd Lamirande
APTN National News
Sixties Scoop adoptee Frederick Edwards points to a scar on his knee and recalls the day he had to go to the hospital with because of the cut when he was 10 years old.

“I went to the emergency ward and the doctor asked the triage nurse who was next and the triage nurse said me. And he said, no that’s just an Indian. He’s just an Indian,” Edwards said.

Edwards was adopted into a non-Indigenous family when he was just weeks old.

Although his mother was 21, she didn’t have a family.

And not thought old, or responsible enough to care for him.

“Anyway, a bit later, my sister came into the emergency room where he was working on my leg, giving me stitiches because I was screaming, screaming,” he said. “And I remember white hot pain. And my sister said what’s going on, what’s wrong. And he said, well maybe the freezing needle hasn’t taken yet.”

Edwards is telling his story at the third national gathering of Sixties Scoop adoptees.

It’s being held just outside Ottawa at a place called Wapoose Farm.

Torture, abuse, all that stuff, sexual abuse, physical abuse … I don’t know, I tried to kill myself,” he said.

“I confronted my adopted parents when I was 20..I don’t want this on film.”

Duane Morrisseau-Beck found out he was adopted when he was five.

“I started thinking I didn’t belong or actually that I was in the wrong place.”

He now advocates on behalf of adoptees.

“It was an Elder at a gathering that said, Duane, you need to go home,” he said. “Didn’t understand what that meant, but you know I’ll give it a try.”

Constance Calderwood was also an infant when she was adopted.

“Maybe they didn’t know what they were adopting,” she said. “I honestly think they didn’t know that I was Aboriginal. And I don’t think that’s what they wanted.”

Calderwood doesn’t have any close family anymore.

Except for the people she meets here.

“Like by going to stuff like this, I feel like it’s kinda like a little family. As you get to kow more and more people and stuff like that.”

Later, Edwards eventually does talk about confronting his mother 25-years ago.

“I know I screamed loud enough for you to hear me and you never came to help me or save me… I made her cry,” he said. “She didn’t want to hear it. She said, I didn’t think it was that bad. And I said, he was just terrible experience. And I told her how bad it was, told her things that had happened.”16:53:50:05

Edwards mother changed her phone number.

A niece told him they’ll get in touch if she wanted to talk to him.

“I hung up the phone and I went into…I ripped up everything. Every memory, every picture I had, every childhood thing I had was gone. I tore everything apart.”

Morrisseau-Beck said many adoptees have felt this way at one point in their lives.

“I think most adoptees will say that they hit a crossroads in their lives. It’s either you want to live or die. That’s basically how it goes.”

Edwards rejection was the motivation he needed to find his birth mother.

“I pretty much knocked on her door and she had no idea I was coming. And I said, ‘Hi, I’m your son.’ And she slammed the door in my face. I waited til she opened the door again and let me in.”

His meeting decades ago now has a happy ending.

“We just told each other we loved each other today. So it was nice.”

 

Contact Todd here: tlamirande@aptn.ca

 

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3 Responses to “Sixties Scoop survivors share stories on their discovery of being Indigenous”

  1. Crazyfox@telus.net'
    Tracey September 29, 2017 at 12:18 am #

    So many heartbreaking stories that must be told before healing can begin.

  2. fredericke@mfnerc.com'
    Frederick edwards September 29, 2017 at 8:15 am #

    Hi Todd
    That Flin Flon doctor tortured me because in his eyes I was “just an Indian”. I give you permission to dig into those health records if you want. I’m not sure exactly my age but my health records would give you an exact date. My adoptive sister and brother were also witnesses, but I haven’t been in touch with members of that family since I was disowned at 22.
    The part where I said I didn’t want this on film was in regards to when I started crying…it was just those seconds where I lost it, I was embarrassed, but in hindsight. I am ok with it now. I want my story told. I did try to die by suicide. I tried drinking like a 66oz whiskey straight in one gulp. I still recall puking up clear liquid with blood in a state of blacking out and then consciousness. I remember nearly a half day went by before I was able to get myself into my bedroom off the bathroom floor.
    I remember my abuser grabbing the shotgun and loading it. The sound of the gun shells, the sound of that lever when you cock it. I ran into my parents room and I held it closed with my back. I remember him kicking it to try and get inside. I was crying and terrified. He was yelling at me to let him in. I remember telling him no because he was going to shoot me. He said let me in or I’ll shoot you through the door and I was crying and yelled back “no because you are going to shoot me anyways”.. he laughed. He thought it was the funniest thing. I remember him holding me down with a knife to my throat and daring me to move. Telling me not to scream. Saying he didn’t care because he’d kill me anyway. I remember the early times where he’d beat the shit out of me in my room and I’d start screaming for my adoptive mom to come save me and he’d just laugh saying she’s not coming. He’d tell me he could do whatever he wanted to me. And he did, I lived in hell until I graduated and left that hell hole. I drank for years later. Dropped out of civil engineering in my third year the year I tried the kill myself.
    Anyway. I told my adoptive mom that last Christmas…you were suppose to protect me…I was just a child… I screamed loud enough for you to come and you never came. She said she didn’t think it was that serious. That’s when I told her about the gun I and knife incident. And there’s so many other terrible incidents I could have told her about but I could see she was defeated. So I stopped. After that Christmas every single one of my adoptive relatives changed their numbers and I never spoke to any of them again.
    I could tell you how racist my adoptive mom was and the times she’d drive me by the “disgusting drunkenIndians” and warm me that she better not see me ever in that state. I even turned into a bad kid for some time but regardless I aced my schoolwork because I knew it was the only way I was leaving that hell hole..that hell.

  3. Cpactv@mac.com'
    Mark Anthony October 7, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

    Thank you for your coverage of the 60s scoop story. I just got off the phone with my adoptive father. Now 88. A good catholic man, who loved me and my sister. Both of us were adopted, from northern Alberta in the mid 60s. We are slowly piecing the puzzle together, My sister was able to trace her birth parents, to Sawridge. Birth Mom passed away many years ago. The point is my adoptive dad called to ask what I thought about the yesterdays announcement. And I am not sure yet. I am still grappling with the 60s scoop idea. Was it good for OUR family, was it bad for my sister and me? I don;t know …. what I do know is that we were loved, and loved and loved even more by my adoptive parents. Still processing….