A group of children playing hockey is featured in the cold open of this week’s episode with voice-over provided by Dr. Cindy Blackstock. “In Indigenous communities around the world, children were by far the most important people in the community, and what was done in the colonial process was the clear separation of children from their families.”
Dr. Blackstock reminds viewers that the residential school system not only harmed children, normalizing them to abuse, but the parents and families left behind by this process lost their purpose for living. She points out that traditionally, “the raising of children was viewed as a communal responsibility; to ensure that they grow up healthy, happy, proud of who they are, and it was the nurturing of the children and their relationship to the land that really defined the cultural perpetuity of our nations.”
We also learn that the current generation of Indigenous children in Canada have less funding for education, health care, mental health programming, and child welfare. They have less access to clean water, and proper housing, and less funding for support services and addiction services than all other Canadians do.
This episode follows the story of 26-year-old Babbeyjane Happyjack, an educator from Waswanipi, Quebec, who is successfully raising her son and two foster children from her community. Babbeyjane shares her own story of abandonment by parents who suffered from substance abuse which resulted in her placement into foster care. Babbeyjane’s story is not the exception but the rule. In many provinces half of all children in foster care are Indigenous, removed from family and culture.
Gina Metallic, Social Worker and Community Organizer, explains that abuse has been transferred from the residential school system to another governmental agency. The one system created neglectful and abusive parents which has led to the apprehension of children at an alarming rate across Canada. This epidemic has assumed the moniker “Millennial Scoop,” and currently there are three times as many Indigenous children in foster care than there were during the height of the Indian Residential School system.
This incredibly powerful and yet poignant installment demonstrates that the systemic neglect, rooted for generations in government policy, demands a conscious decision to recover the traditional purpose as caregivers and “hold ourselves to the highest standard we can, to be stronger than we ever thought we could be for our kids”.
Babbeyjane Happyjack – Fostering Positive Change, originally aired on the 20th Anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, a day that celebrates Indigenous cultures and contributions across Canada and is an opportunity for those of non-Indigenous decent to learn more about cultural diversity across Canada
This episode also discusses the Canadian Human Rights tribunal , a lawsuit filed by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, that ultimately ruled that the Government of Canada is guilty of discriminating against 163,000 Indigenous children.