Category Archives: Wars and Warriors

Warriors and Warfare

Métis Sniper Made His Mark for Canada at Vimy Ridge

Marilyn Buffalo holds a portrait of her great-grandfather Henry Norwest, a Métis marksman who was a celebrated sniper during the First World War. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

April 9 marks 100 years since Canadian troops began the battle for Vimy Ridge

CBC News Posted: Apr 04, 2017

At the bottom of the list of names etched into the cenotaph at the legion in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., there is one that stands out from the rest.

Henry Norwest’s name is in a different format. The white paint, which has not yet faded like the others, still gleams.

Norwest’s name was added to the First World War cenotaph at the Legion in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., in 2008. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

If the name looks like it was an afterthought, it’s because it was. Norwest’s was added to the cenotaph in 2008, an action formally honouring the Métis marksman who died 90 years earlier, during the First World War.

Sunday marks 100 years since Canadian troops began the assault on Vimy Ridge in northeast France. By April 14, the Canadians had won the battle, but lost almost 3,600.

“There is no doubt in mind that he is in a place of peace,” says Marilyn Buffalo, Norwest’s great-granddaughter.

“There is a special place for warriors like him.”

Ranch hand and roper

Before he took to the battlefields in France and was among the thousands of Canadians who fought at Vimy Ridge in April 1917, Norwest was a married father of three who frequently moved around to find work.

Of French and Cree ancestry, he was a ranch hand and a roper who helped to wrangle bison in Montana in an effort to move herds north to Canada.

He listed his trade as “Cow Puncher” when he signed up to be part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in January 1915.

Norwest, who sometimes went as Henry Louie, worked as a ranch hand and roper before enlisting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. (Glenbow Archives)

With war underway in Europe, he eagerly enlisted in Wetaskiwin, Alta., under the name Henry Louie, but his initial military stint was short-lived. Records from the time show that he was discharged three months later because of what was then referred to as “drunkenness.”

Still determined to fight overseas, he headed south to Calgary and enlisted again, this time under the name Henry Norwest.

Norwest established himself as a skilled sniper while fighting in France with Calgary’s 50th Battalion (Marilyn Buffalo)

Before he left for England, he went to say goodbye to his three girls, who at the time were living in a residential school in Ermineskin, Alta.

Buffalo remembers her grandmother telling her about the last time she saw him.

“There was a very handsome man who came to bid her goodbye at the residential school and that was her dad.”

A hunter turned sniper

Starting out earning a monthly wage of $15, Norwest quickly established himself as a skilled sniper while fighting in France with Calgary’s 50th Battalion.

Snipers typically worked with an observer, but Buffalo says she heard stories about Norwest sometimes creeping through no man’s land on his own, slipping out of the trench at night and returning to camp early in the morning.

During the war, First Nation soldiers were among Canada’s top snipers, and Norwest’s upbringing and experience as a hunter were evident, says Al Judson, curator of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment Museum, where one of Norwest’s rifles is on display.

“He could move well, quietly with stealth,” says Judson.

“He could use camouflage and the natural foliage around him to hide.”

A Ross rifle on display at the King’s Own Calgary Regiment Museum is one of the rifles Norwest used. (Colin Hall/CBC)

He had a reputation that was feared by the Germans and revered by his comrades.

In military records, he is described by a fellow soldier as understanding “better than most of the us the cost of life and the price of death.”

“He showed complete detachment from everything while he was in the line.”

Off the battlefield, he was jovial and popular with the women in the dance halls, which is how Buffalo says her great-grandfather earned his nickname “Ducky.”

“He would dance all night and then duck out on the girls at the end of the night.”

Vimy Ridge

On April 9, 1917, under a barrage of heavy fire, Norwest was among the thousands of Canadian troops who made the deadly push to capture Vimy Ridge.

Norwest was awarded a Military Medal for his efforts to help allied forces capture “the Pimple,” a significant point along the ridge.

In his award citation, officials said he showed great bravery and “saved a great number of our men’s lives.”

In the three months leading up the to the battle, he shot and killed 59 men from opposing forces.

Norwest won a military medal for his efforts during the battle for Vimy Ridge. He died in August 1918, three months before the war ended.

In August of the following year, he fought during the battle of Amiens, taking out snipers and machine gunners. But just three months before the First World War ended, Norwest himself became the target of a German sharpshooter and the 33-year-old was shot and killed.

On his temporary grave marker, one of his fellow soldiers wrote: “It must have been a damned good sniper that got Norwest.”

‘Made me very proud’

At the time of his death, he had 115 confirmed kills, but the actual number of fatal shots he fired could be much higher because the military only recorded hits that had been observed by someone else. He was awarded a military bar posthumously to go along with his medal.

After the war, his remains were reinterred in a small church graveyard in Warvillers, France. In 2009, his great-granddaughter made an emotional visit to the site, where she performed a sacred Cree ceremony.

“It made me very proud,” Buffalo says.

“This is a part of the history, our contribution to the world and to the British Empire 100 years ago. It has to be honoured.”

Buffalo visited her great-grandfather’s grave in Warvillers, France, in 2009. (Marilyn Buffalo)

As a self-described history buff, she says she’s tried to learn as much as she can about Norwest. She has reflected on what his contribution and his loss meant to her family.

Before he was killed in France, his wife died in Alberta, so his three daughters were left as orphans and spent most of their childhoods at residential school.

‘He should have been there a long time ago.’- Dutchie Anderson

Today, Buffalo says Norwest has hundreds of descendants, mostly concentrated around Samson Cree First Nation in central Alberta.

Some of them were there for a special ceremony in 2008, when Norwest’s name was finally added to the cenotaph at the Fort Saskatchewan legion.

“He should have been there a long time ago,” says Dutchie Enders, the services officer for the legion.

Two stones have been placed in honour of Norwest at the cemetery in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

He believes Norwest’s legacy was previously overlooked because he was Indigenous. Enders himself had only learned about his story shortly before Norwest’s name was engraved.

“That is when we recognized that he had been neglected all these years.”

Two stones have also been placed in the community’s cemetery, each bearing a plaque recounting Norwest’s accomplishments during the war.

The legion’s canteen is now named in honour of Norwest. His black and white picture hangs in the room and pressed under the glass beside it is a single eagle feather, which is a sacred symbol in Cree culture.

“We had to do this,” Enders says. “He was one of our own.”

[SOURCE]

 

 

Lead plaintiff Marcia Brown Martel (left) is seen outside court in Toronto on Dec. 1, 2016. (Photo: Colin Perkel/CP)

’60s Scoop Ruling: Canada Failed To Protect Indigenous Children, Judge Rules

Lead plaintiff Marcia Brown Martel (left) is seen outside court in Toronto on Dec. 1, 2016. (Photo: Colin Perkel/CP)

Lead plaintiff Marcia Brown Martel (left) is seen outside court in Toronto on Dec. 1, 2016. (Photo: Colin Perkel/CP)

The Canadian Press | Feb 14, 2017

Canada failed to take reasonable steps to prevent thousands of on-reserve children who were placed with non-native families from losing their indigenous heritage during the ’60s Scoop, an Ontario judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling in the long-running and bitterly fought class action paves the way for an assessment of damages the government will now have to pay.

In siding with the plaintiffs, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba found Canada had breached its “duty of care” to the children.

The lawsuit launched eight years ago sought $1.3 billion on behalf of about 16,000 indigenous children in Ontario who claimed they were harmed by being placed in non-aboriginal homes from 1965 to 1984 under terms of a federal-provincial agreement.

The plaintiffs argued — and Belobaba agreed — that Ottawa breached part of the agreement that required consultation with Indian bands about the child welfare program.

Belobaba was scathing in commenting on the government’s contention that consultation with the bands wouldn’t have made any difference to the children.

“This is an odd and, frankly, insulting submission,” Belobaba wrote. “Canada appears to be saying that even if the extension of child welfare services to their reserves had been fully explained to the Indian bands and, if each band had been genuinely consulted about their concerns in this regard, that no meaningful advice or ideas would have been forthcoming.”

Belobaba also took issue with the government’s argument that the 1960s were different times and that it acted with good intentions in line with prevailing standards. As a result, the government had tried to argue, it could not have known the harm that might have been done to the children.

“I feel like a great weight has been lifted from my heart.” — Marcia Brown Martel, lead plaintiff

“Canada’s submission misses the point,” Belobaba said. “The issue is not what was known in the 1960s about the harm of trans-racial adoption or the risk of abuse in the foster home.”

The lawsuit sought $1.3 billion on behalf of about 16,000 indigenous children in Ontario who claimed they were harmed by being placed in non-aboriginal homes from 1965 to 1984. (Photo: CP)

The lawsuit sought $1.3 billion on behalf of about 16,000 indigenous children in Ontario who claimed they were harmed by being placed in non-aboriginal homes from 1965 to 1984. (Photo: CP)

Instead, the justice said, there can be “no doubt” that what was well known even then was the importance to First Nations peoples of protecting and preserving their distinctive cultures and traditions, including their concept of the extended family.

The lead plaintiff in the Ontario action, Marcia Brown Martel, 53, is a member of the Temagami First Nation near Kirkland Lake, Ont. She was adopted by a non-aboriginal couple in 1972 at age nine and later discovered the Canadian government had declared her original identity dead.

“I feel like a great weight has been lifted from my heart,” Brown Martel said in a statement. “Our voices were finally heard and listened to. Our pain was acknowledged.”

The government did not immediately comment on the decision.

Belobaba said that while the 1965 agreement, strictly speaking, applied to the Indian bands and not the children, he hoped the government would not now try to make such a “formalistic argument” given the First Nations context.

The Liberal government indicated last week it was going to try to block Belobaba from releasing his ruling after Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett announced an intention to negotiate with ’60s Scoop survivors across the country. The government relented amid outrage by the plaintiffs and critics, who called the attempt to stop the ruling an unprecedented political interference.

Similar legal actions in several provinces other than Ontario are pending but none has been certified.

[SOURCE]

Remembering the Wounded Knee Massacre – Dec 29, 1890

The opening of the fight at Wounded Knee illustration

The opening of the fight at Wounded Knee illustration

Red Power Media | Dec 29, 2016

On December 29, 1890, the massacre of Sioux warriors, women and children along Wounded Knee Creek in southwestern South Dakota marked the final chapter in the long war between the United States and the Native American tribes indigenous to the Great Plains.

For the entirety of his 27 years, Black Elk’s somber eyes had watched as the way of life for his fellow Lakota Sioux withered on the Great Plains. The medicine man had witnessed a generation of broken treaties and shattered dreams. He had watched as the white men “came in like a river” after gold was discovered in the Dakota Territory’s Black Hills in 1874, and he had been there two years later when Custer and his men were annihilated at Little Big Horn.

Black Elk (left) and Elk of the Ogala Lakota touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. (Credit: National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution)

Black Elk (left) and Elk of the Ogala Lakota touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. (Credit: National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution)

He had seen the Lakota’s traditional hunting grounds evaporate as white men decimated the native buffalo population. The Lakota, who once roamed as free as the bison on the Great Plains, were now mostly confined to government reservations.

Life for the Sioux had become as bleak as the weather that gripped the snow-dusted prairies of South Dakota in the winter of 1890. A glimmer of hope, however, had begun to arise with the new Ghost Dance spiritual movement, which preached that Native Americans had been confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional customs. Leaders promised that the buffalo would return, relatives would be resurrected and the white man would be cast away if the Native Americans performed a ritual “ghost dance.”

As the movement began to spread, white settlers grew increasingly alarmed and feared it as a prelude to an armed uprising. “Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy,” telegrammed a frightened government agent stationed on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation to the commissioner of Indian affairs on November 15, 1890.

General Nelson Miles

General Nelson Miles

“We need protection and we need it now.” General Nelson Miles arrived on the prairie with 5,000 troops as part of the Seventh Cavalry, Custer’s old command, and ordered the arrest of several Sioux leaders.

When on December 15, 1890, Indian police tried to arrest Chief Sitting Bull, who was mistakenly believed to have been joining the Ghost Dancers, the noted Sioux leader was killed in the melee. On December 28, the cavalry caught up with Chief Big Foot, who was leading a band of upwards of 350 people to join Chief Red Cloud, near the banks of Wounded Knee Creek, which winds through the prairies and badlands of southwest South Dakota. The American forces arrested Big Foot—too ill with pneumonia to sit up, let alone walk—and positioned their Hotchkiss guns on a rise overlooking the Lakota camp.

As a bugle blared the following morning—December 29—American soldiers mounted their horses and surrounded the Native American camp. A medicine man who started to perform the ghost dance cried out, “Do not fear but let your hearts be strong. Many soldiers are about us and have many bullets, but I am assured their bullets cannot penetrate us.” He implored the heavens to scatter the soldiers like the dust he threw into the air.

The cavalry, however, went teepee to teepee seizing axes, rifles and other weapons. As the soldiers attempted to confiscate a weapon they spotted under the blanket of a deaf man who could not hear their orders, a gunshot suddenly rang out. It was not clear which side shot first, but within seconds the American soldiers launched a hail of bullets from rifles, revolvers and rapid-fire Hotchkiss guns into the teepees. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Lakota offered meek resistance.

Big Foot, leader of the Sioux, lying in the snow where he was killed during the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Big Foot, leader of the Sioux, lying in the snow where he was killed during the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Big Foot was shot where he lay on the ground. Boys who only moments before were playing leapfrog were mowed down. In just a matter of minutes, at least 150 Sioux (some historians put the number at twice as high) were killed along with 25 American soldiers. Nearly half the victims were women and children.

The dead were carried to the nearby Episcopal church and laid in two rows underneath festive wreaths and other Christmas decorations. Days later a burial party arrived, dug a pit and dumped in the frozen bodies. For decades, survivors of the massacre lobbied in vain for compensation, while the U.S. Army awarded 20 Medals of Honor to members of the Seventh Cavalry for their roles in the bloodbath.

Bodies of Lakota Sioux at Big Foot’s camp following the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Bodies of Lakota Sioux at Big Foot’s camp following the Wounded Knee Massacre.

When Black Elk closed his wizened eyes in 1931, he could still envision the horror. “When I look back now from this high hill of my old age,” he told writer John G. Neihardt for his 1932 book “Black Elk Speaks,” “I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there.”

It was not the last time blood flowed next to Wounded Knee Creek. In February 1973 activists with the American Indian Movement seized and occupied the site for 71 days to protest the U.S. government’s mistreatment of Native Americans. The standoff resulted in the deaths of two Native Americans.

[SOURCE]

Sitting Bull Killed by Indian Police – Dec 15, 1890

Sitting Bull by Kenneth Ferguson

Sitting Bull by Kenneth Ferguson

Red Power Media | Dec 15, 2016

After many years of successfully resisting white efforts to destroy him and the Sioux people, the great Sioux chief and holy man Sitting Bull is killed by Indian police at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota.

One of the most famous Native Americans of the 19th century, Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake) was a fierce enemy of Anglo-Americans from a young age. Deeply devoted to the traditional ways, Sitting Bull believed that contact with non-Indians undermined the strength and identity of the Sioux and would lead to their ultimate decline. However, Sitting Bull’s tactics were generally more defensive than aggressive, especially as he grew older and became a Sioux leader. Fundamentally, Sitting Bull and those associated with his tribe wished only to be left alone to pursue their traditional ways, but the Anglo settlers’ growing interest in the land and the resulting confinement of Indians to government-controlled reservations inevitably led to conflicts. Sitting Bull’s refusal to follow an 1875 order to bring his people to the Sioux reservation directly led to the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn, during which the Sioux and Cheyenne wiped out five troops of Custer’s 7th Cavalry.

After the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull and his followers fled to Canada for four years. Faced with mass starvation among his people, Sitting Bull finally returned to the United States and surrendered in 1883. Sitting Bull was assigned to the Standing Rock reservation in present-day South Dakota, where he maintained considerable power despite the best efforts of the Indian bureau agents to undermine his influence. When the apocalyptic spiritual revival movement known as the Ghost Dance began to grow in popularity among the Sioux in 1890, Indian agents feared it might lead to an Indian uprising. Wrongly believing that Sitting Bull was the driving force behind the Ghost Dance, agent James McLaughlin sent Indian police to arrest the chief at his small cabin on the Grand River.

The Indian police rousted the naked chief from his bed at 6:00 in the morning, hoping to spirit him away before his guards and neighbors knew what had happened. When the fifty-nine-year-old chief refused to go quietly, a crowd gathered and a few hotheaded young men threatened the Indian police. Someone fired a shot that hit one of the Indian police; they retaliated by shooting Sitting Bull in the chest and head. The great chief was killed instantly. Before the ensuing gunfight ended, twelve other Indians were dead and three were wounded.

The man who had nobly resisted the encroachment of whites and their culture for nearly three decades was buried in a far corner of the post cemetery at Fort Yates. Two weeks later, the army brutally suppressed the Ghost Dance movement with the massacre of a band of Sioux at Wounded Knee, the final act in the long and tragic history of the American war against the Plains Indians.

[SOURCE]

Aboriginals Rally At ’60s Scoop Courthouse As Class Action Hearing Begins

Sixties Scoop survivors and supporters gather for a demonstration at a Toronto courthouse on Tuesday, August 23, 2016. Scores of aboriginals from across Ontario rallied in Toronto today ahead of a landmark court hearing on the so-called ’60s Scoop. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu

Sixties Scoop survivors and supporters gather for a demonstration at a Toronto courthouse on Tuesday, August 23, 2016. Scores of aboriginals from across Ontario rallied in Toronto today ahead of a landmark court hearing on the so-called ’60s Scoop. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu

A $1.3-billion class action argues Canada failed to protect children’s cultural heritage, with devastating consequences

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press, August 23, 2016

TORONTO – Scores of aboriginals from across Ontario rallied Tuesday ahead of a landmark court hearing on whether the Canadian government robbed them of their cultural identities during a two-decade period in which native children were taken from their homes and placed with non-native families.

Some, who travelled for as long as two days to attend, listened as speakers denounced the ’60s Scoop and what they called the “cultural genocide” perpetrated by the government against indigenous people. Speakers called the practice a deliberate effort to assimilate aboriginal children.

“I just want to say to Canada: We will not allow the harm of our children. We need to bring our children home, the ones that were lost, the one’s that were stolen,” lead plaintiff Marcia Brown Martel told the crowd.

“(It’s) such a harm and injustice as a human being to have our children taken from us.”

Martel, a member of the Temagami First Nation near Kirkland Lake, Ont., was one of an estimated 16,000 aboriginal children who ended up in non-native homes. She later discovered the Canadian government had declared her original identity dead.

The ’60s Scoop depended on a federal-provincial arrangement that operated from December 1965 to December 1984. The $1.3-billion class action argues that Canada failed to protect the children’s cultural heritage, with devastating consequences to victims.

“Treaties do not give you permission to take our children,” Regional Chief Isadore Day said.

Following the rally, the crowd marched behind traditional drummers to the nearby courthouse, where they filled the courtroom, to listen as their lawyer, Jeffery Wilson, called on Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba to decide the case, which began in early 2009, based on the evidence he already has.

The unproven claim – it seeks $85,000 for each affected person – alleges the children suffered emotional, psychological and spiritual harm due to the devastating loss of a cultural identity that Canada negligently failed to protect.

The ’60s Scoop, which occurred without any consultation with Indian bands, may have been part of the government’s hidden agenda to “remove the savage Indian from the child,” Wilson told court, but what exactly motivated the “abomination” is not clear.

By robbing the children of their First Nations identities, Wilson said, they were denied the kind of crucial cultural and language experience other Canadians take for granted. The harm is “profoundly ongoing,” he said, even if the events in question are now historical.

“A moral calamity occurred,” Wilson said.

Canada, which has tried on several occasions to have the case thrown out, argues among other things that it was acting in the best interests of the children and within the social norms of the day.

As had been previously agreed, Belobaba adjourned the hearing until Dec. 1, when the federal government will make its case – if it does not decide in the interim to try to negotiate a deal to settle out of court.

Last week, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said she would like to see that happen, a theme picked up on at the morning rally. Speakers, including New Democrat Charlie Angus, urged the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau to be on the “right side of history” and make good on his promise of a new era in Canadian-aboriginal relations.

Before court ended, Wilson cited a few words in Algonquin which he spelled out.

“Ati kati ci wepik,” he said. “We must never let this happen again.”

In an interview, Glen Hare, deputy grand council chief of the Anishinabek Nation, said he planned on doing his part to ensure it doesn’t happen again. His one regret, he said, is once having signed adoption papers for one of his band’s babies, who he believes was taken abroad.

“I will never sign another adoption, I don’t care who it is. You can lock me up first or shoot me,” Hare said. “Our kids are not for sale, that’s the bottom line.”

http://www.macleans.ca/news/aboriginals-rally-at-60s-scoop-courthouse-as-class-action-hearing-begins/

 

Indigenous People Impacted By Sixties Scoop Finally Getting Day In Court

"I lost everything, including my name. I lost my family. I lost my language. I lost everything about my culture," says Marcia Brown Martel, the representative plaintiff.

“I lost everything, including my name. I lost my family. I lost my language. I lost everything about my culture,” says Marcia Brown Martel, the representative plaintiff.

Ottawa has fought unprecedented class action every step of the way

The Canadian Press, Aug 22, 2016

Thousands of Indigenous people who argue the federal government robbed them of their cultural identities finally get their day in court this week but will have to wait months for Canada to make its case in the unprecedented class action Ottawa has fought every step of the way.

The plaintiffs and supporters from all over Ontario are expected to rally at the courthouse on Tuesday as their lawyers press for summary judgment in the legal battle started in February 2009.

The lawsuit turns on a federal-provincial arrangement — called the Sixties Scoop — in which Ontario child welfare services placed as many as 16,000 Indigenous children with non-native families from December 1965 to December 1984.

Their unproven claim alleges the children suffered a devastating loss of cultural identity that Canada negligently failed to protect. The children, the suit states, suffered emotional, psychological and spiritual harm from the lost connection to their Aboriginal heritage. They want $1.3 billion in various damages — $85,000 for each affected person.

“This is the first case in the western world (about) whether a state government has an obligation to take steps to protect and preserve the cultural identity of its Indigenous people,” said Jeffery Wilson, lawyer for the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment to be heard Tuesday essentially calls on Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba to decide the case based on the evidence the court already has without the need for a full trial.

Canada has previously tried to have the case thrown out as futile. Among other things, Ottawa argues it was acting in the best interests of the children and within the social norms of the day. However, Divisional Court ruled in December 2014 that the plaintiffs deserved a chance to argue the merits of their position at trial.

“It is difficult to see a specific interest that could be of more importance to Aboriginal peoples than each person’s essential connection to their Aboriginal heritage,” the three-justice panel concluded.

In early March, the courts ruled the action should proceed over two weeks, starting Aug. 23. However, much to the chagrin of the plaintiffs, the government late last month asked for a delay, saying it needed more time to come up with experts to counter the claims. The court refused.

‘I lost my family. I lost my language. I lost everything about my culture.’– Marcia Brown Martel

But with buses ordered and courthouse rallies planned for Tuesday, the prospect of more government appeals and delays prompted the plaintiffs to agree to the one-day hearing. In exchange, the government since filed thousands of pages of materials, but has until November to file expert evidence. The hearing is slated to resume for two days on Dec. 1.

Wilson said he hoped the hiatus would allow for a negotiated settlement — a tack the Liberal government now appears to favour. Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said last week she would like to see the case discussed at the table rather than in court.

The Ontario case differs from scoop lawsuits in several other provinces in that it does not take legal issue with the placement of Indian children in non-Aboriginal homes because it was done under court orders in the best interests of the child.

In addition, Ontario was the only province to sign a formal agreement with Ottawa to take over the protection and adoption of First Nations children. The case turns on a single provision the plaintiffs say essentially required the federal government to consult Indian bands and maintain oversight of the children’s welfare.

“I lost everything, including my name. I lost my family. I lost my language. I lost everything about my culture,” Marcia Brown Martel, the representative plaintiff in the Ontario case, told The Canadian Press. “This should never have happened. It was wrong.”

Martel, a member of the Temagami First Nation near Kirkland Lake, Ont., was taken by child welfare officials and adopted by a non-native family as a child. She later discovered the Canadian government had declared her original identity dead.

Last week, five Aboriginal leaders wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urge his government to settle, and admit the “immense wrong” done the scoop children.

“This moment is an opportunity for Canada to put an ugly legacy behind us,” the letter states.

[SOURCE]

Sisters Torn Apart By Sixties Scoop Reunited Decades Later

Sonya Murray, centre, made it her mission to track down her long-lost sisters Nakuset, left, and Rose Mary, right. (Submitted by Nakuset)

Sonya Murray, centre, made it her mission to track down her long-lost sisters Nakuset, left, and Rose Mary, right. (Submitted by Nakuset)

Women among thousands of First Nations children removed from their families under federal program

CBC News Posted: Jul 04, 2016 / Last Updated: Jul 05, 2016

Sonya Murray and her sister Nakuset hadn’t heard from their youngest sister Rose Mary since she was around five years old.

The two older sisters were taken from their family home in Thompson, Man., one night as part of a federal government program that’s now known as the Sixties Scoop.

Decades after being forced apart along with thousands of other First Nations children and placed in adoptive homes across Canada, the two sisters were reunited with Rose Mary Monday on CBC Montreal’s Daybreak.

Between the 1960s and 1985, the government estimates more than 11,000 Aboriginal children were removed from their families – often without the parents’ consent –  and adopted out under the program.

Nakuset

Nakuset said Rose Mary was ‘the missing piece’ and the sisters now have to make up for lost time. (Radio-Canada)

Others contend that as many as 50,000 children were adopted out under the program.

“One night, there was a knock on the door. Nakuset and I were alone in the house. I kind of opened door… and apparently some police came in and took us away,” Sonya said.

Nakuset and Sonya were kept in the same foster home for a brief period before they were separated.

‘She’s gone… that’s all I ever heard’

Sonya, who was around five years old at the time, was the eldest of the three girls.

“One morning I woke up and I looked in the bed over from me and it was all made up, and [Nakuset] was gone,” she said.

“I asked, ‘Where’s my sister?’ and they just said, ‘She’s gone.’ That’s all I ever heard.”

Nakuset was adopted by a family in Montreal, where she still lives, and Sonya was later returned to live with her mother and stepfather. She now lives near Kenora, Ont.

The emotions of that time are still raw for Nakuset, especially when she considers the loss Sonya felt and the effort she made to find her little sisters.

“Sonya made it her mission to try to find both of us, and she’s really the one that keeps us all together.”

That effort paid off last week, when she received a message from Rose Mary on Facebook last week.

Nakuset teenager

Nakuset says she grew up yearning for her native roots. ‘I so desperately wanted to belong. ‘ (Submitted by Nakuset)

The youngest sister had moved to Vienna, Austria, with her European father when she was around three years old.

“There were no goodbyes,” Sonya said. “She was just gone one day.”

The sisters’ four brothers were also taken from their mother and placed in homes.

‘She was the last missing piece of the puzzle’

The message from Rose Mary, who now lives in Horn, Austria, came as a welcome shock to Sonya.

“I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t sure. My head was asking if this is real,” Sonya told CBC.

Since then, the three say they’ve been going “crazy” together, and they finally feel complete.

“In Austria, I used to feel lost and I never knew why,” Rose Mary said. “Now, my heart feels wide open and I’ve found new happiness.”

Rose Mary was “the missing piece,” Nakuset added, a feeling that was echoed by Sonya.

“You have a sense of emptiness, there’s always a feeling that you’re not full, you’re not complete,” she said.

“In meeting with my two sisters — now it’s ‘us’, not just me and you, like it was with Nakuset. It’s not just me and you against the world, it’s us against the world. We’re complete. She was the last missing piece of the puzzle.”

Nakuset said she can’t imagine the loneliness her youngest sister felt so far away.

“I think about how hard that must have been for her to be the only Cree in a country, you know, where there’s no one else who looks like her,” she said.

Nakuset said they’re now keen to get to Europe and teach their little little sister all about Cree culture and language. Rose Mary is already planning a visit to Canada next summer.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to make up for lost time,” Nakuset said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/60s-scoop-reunited-sisters-cbc-1.3663770?cmp=abfb

Better Cultural Training Needed For Foster Parents: Manitoba Children’s Advocate

katy-cfs-teen-in-hotel

The Canadian Press, June 15, 2016

WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s children’s advocate says the province’s beleaguered child-welfare system is struggling to meet the needs of children and should provide better cultural training for foster parents.

Darlene MacDonald released a report Wednesday aimed at improving support for indigenous youth, especially girls. Generations of indigenous people were torn from their families though residential schools and forced adoption known as the ’60s Scoop, the report said.

Manitoba can be at the forefront of the healing that must take place, MacDonald suggested.

“Manitoba has an opportunity to become a leader in how meaningful restructuring and root-cause investments can reshape and redress the abuses of the past,” the report says. “The provincial child-welfare system has been ineffective to a large degree at improving outcomes for indigenous children and youth.”

Manitoba has one of the highest apprehension rates in the country and seizes an average of one newborn baby a day. There are just over 10,000 children in care and 90 per cent of them are indigenous.

The report said foster families need to get cultural training and support so they can help their wards explore their own culture.

“This connection to culture is not only a protected right under international law, it is also strongly supported by research that the best outcomes for children in out-of-home care are correlated with strong cultural identity.”

Manitoba also has to look at providing supports closer to home, the report says. That means overhauling foster-care standards and regulations so more homes can be created outside the city. Square footage and occupancy requirements for urban homes should not “continue to be unfairly applied to rural locations.”

“Safe, temporary caregivers exist in communities throughout the province, but many do not qualify as foster-care providers because of the current regulations, which do not reflect an understanding of cultural diversity and community norms,” the report says.

“Safety must never be compromised, but much more can be done to develop safe foster homes around Manitoba so that children and youth in care have more options of staying close to home while services are being delivered to the family.”

The government should also hire more cultural workers and establish a “grandmothers advisory council” to give advice to various departments, especially those who deal with youth. The government should acknowledge the position of influence and wisdom female elders hold in indigenous culture, MacDonald’s report says.

The council, chosen in consultation with the indigenous community, would provide the government with “traditional parenting advice and guidance on the development and delivery of public services that impact children, youth, and families.”

“Our province and our country face an incredible time of opportunity. This is the time where we must honestly acknowledge the disgrace of how Canada’s indigenous people were treated at the hands of those who came here from away.”

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/better-cultural-training-needed-for-foster-parents-manitoba-children-s-advocate-1.2947966

Sask. Government Taking Over Child Welfare Programs From Saskatoon Tribal Council

Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer says the Saskatoon Tribal Council has repeatedly refused the ministry access to files for children it serves on reserve.

Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer says the Saskatoon Tribal Council has repeatedly refused the ministry access to files for children it serves on reserve.

The Canadian Press, June 14, 2016

“We’ve had over 200 kids die within the provincial system. And with the Saskatoon Tribal Council (system), we’ve had none,”

Effective today, the Ministry of Social Services is assuming responsibility for child welfare programs served by the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC).

The Saskatchewan government is taking back responsibility for the care of children from the Saskatoon Tribal Council Child and Family Services. Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer says the tribal council has repeatedly refused the ministry access to files for children it serves on reserve.

Harpauer says that means the government has no idea how many children are being cared for or what kind of care they’re receiving.

Harpauer said that means the government has no idea how many children are being cared for or what kind of care they’re receiving. She said the STC is not submitting monthly reports on children in its care, which is what 16 other First Nations agencies in Saskatchewan already do.

Harpauer said years of trying to negotiate a new deal between the province and the tribal council have reached an impasse and federal funding expired in March.

She said officials plan to go to the Saskatoon Tribal Council office on Wednesday to get the files and, if that doesn’t work, the province will have to go through the courts, adding this move will affect 50 to 100 children on-reserve.

STC Chief Felix Thomas said that the province has failed to negotiate in good faith since 2008, accusing officials of threatening to withhold money in an effort to dictate terms to the council.

Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas

Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas

Thomas said the STC agency is federally accredited and abides by guidelines for care that meet or exceed provincial ones.

He said he believes Tuesday’s move is part of an effort by the province to horn-in on the jurisdiction of band councils.

“They’re getting pushback on the jurisdictional side and they want to enact legislation in the fall, what I believe, on child and family services and jurisdiction on and off-reserve. And it’s something that certainly our chiefs don’t agree with, that they have jurisdiction on-reserve,” he said.

Thomas said the bands don’t trust the provincial child welfare system, citing hundreds of deaths reported over the years.

“We’ve had over 200 kids die within the provincial system. And with the Saskatoon Tribal Council (system), we’ve had none,” he said.

Thomas said he expected the issue to wind up in the courts if no resolution can be negotiated.

Harpauer said the province’s agreements with the STC which deal with caring for kids off-reserve will still stand, as officials have been able to access those files. She said the provincial takeover only applies to on-reserve care and that the province would work with other First Nations agencies to try and avoid unnecessarily moving kids out of their existing foster homes.

-With files from the Canadian Press

U.S. Army Open To Returning Remains Of American Indian Children Buried In Carlisle 

Buildings at the Carlisle War College that once were the Carlisle Indian School, March 22, 2016. James Robinson, PennLive.com

Buildings at the Carlisle War College that once were the Carlisle Indian School, March 22, 2016. James Robinson, PennLive.com

By Red Power Media, Staff | May 6, 2016

Nearly 200 American Indian children perished at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School

For more than 100 years, American Indian children have been buried at Carlisle, the school that sought to cleanse their “savage nature” by erasing their names, language, customs, religions, and family ties.

Between 1879 and 1918, more than 10,000 American Indian children were housed at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, the federal government’s flagship boarding school based on a strict military model.

The children were stripped of all tribal traditions. Their native names were changed to European names and they were forced to adopt the traditions of white America.

Nearly 200 of the children perished at the school, most from diseases like tuberculosis or consumption. Their remains were never returned to their families. The children’s final resting place is on the grounds of what used to be the boarding school and is now part of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle.

American Indian children who died while attending the Carlisle Indian School are buried at this site on the Carlisle Barracks.

Grave-sites at Carlisle cemetery are often decorated by visitors with small stuffed animals, dreamcatchers and toys.

Now there’s a chance that some will be sent home to their tribes.

Patrick Hallinan, the head of Army cemeteries said in an interview that he’s open to meeting American Indian demands to repatriate children’s remains, provided talks on the matter prove fruitful and all regulations are met.

This marks a reversal for the Army, which in winter denied a Rosebud Sioux request to return 10 tribal children to South Dakota.

Now the Army confirms it will send two officials to Rosebud on May 10, to begin formal government-to-government consultations with the Sioux, the Northern Arapaho of Wyoming, and a third tribe that now seeks the return of its people, the Northern Cheyenne of Montana.

“I think things are going to happen,” said Russell Eagle Bear, the Rosebud historic-preservation officer. “I’m hoping they’re going to tell us they’re ready to work with us and let our relatives go.”

If that occurs, he said, an intended summer tribal pilgrimage to Carlisle could become an advance party to plan the return of Sioux remains.

The nearly 200 children that lie in the Carlisle cemetery were among thousands taken from native families in the West, spirited a thousand miles to the East, and forced through a wrenching experiment in assimilation.

Today many American Indians view what took place at Carlisle as genocide.

Chiricahua Apache children upon arrival at Carlisle Indian Industrial School

American Indian children upon arrival at Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

American Indian children four months after their arrival at Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

American Indian children four months after their arrival at Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

Hallinan says, the decision to return remains from Carlisle to Rosebud or elsewhere, rests with him.

“If the tribes are interested and this is something they want to do, we would be supportive to see that accomplished,” Hallinan said. “We look forward to working with the tribes, and we think that once we sit down and consult with them, there should be a positive outcome for all involved.”

He plans to send staff to two American Indian conferences this year, to see if other tribes wish to discuss the status of their ancestors’ remains.

While the Army plans to send two people on May 10, dozens could attend from Indian nations. Leaders of the Rosebud Sioux, Northern Arapaho, Cheyenne River Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, Standing Rock Sioux and Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribes will meet on Tuesday, in Rosebud, South Dakota with representatives from the federal government and the U.S. Army to begin negotiations over the repatriation of the children’s remains.

All six tribes intend to have people there, and the Rosebud Sioux will bring lawyers, political leaders, and tribal staff. South Dakota’s senators and congresswoman will send representatives.

This month’s meeting in Rosebud could portend a major step forward on an issue that torments many native peoples. It comes amid an outpouring of interest and awareness that followed a March 20 story in the Inquirer.

Carlisle opened in 1879 as the first federal Indian boarding school, spawning a fleet of successors that embraced the motto, “Kill the Indian, save the man.”

At Carlisle, children who spoke their native language could be beaten, while overcrowding and malnourishment weakened students, making them vulnerable to epidemics that swept the school.

Today many Indian researchers and activists refer to those who attended Carlisle and similar institutions as “boarding school survivors.” They say collective trauma and grief contributes to the devastating social ills that plague tribal communities.

Carlisle Indian Industrial School

Carlisle cemetery grave marked “Unknown.”

Officially the Carlisle cemetery contains 186 graves. Thirteen are marked “Unknown.” Many of the headstones bear names but no birth or death dates.

For approximately three decades beginning in the latter part of the 19th century, the federal government, in an effort to “tame the savage” and assimilate them into the dominant white culture, uprooted close to a million American Indian children from their reservation tribal homes, transporting them thousands of miles across the country to boarding schools.