July 16th, 2024

Indigenous author impacted by Sixties Scoop

By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on September 29, 2023.

Herald photo by Steffanie Costigan Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane shares her book Powwow: A Celebration through Song and Dance at the annual library event Word on the Street last weekend.

Indigenous author Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane talked about her book “Powwow: A Celebration through Song and Dance” at the Word on the Street Festival last weekend at the downtown branch of the Lethbridge Public Library.

Pheasant-Neganiwane is an assistant professor at Mount Royal University in the Treaty Seven region and at the library she shared the lack of education schools have regarding Indigenous culture.

“I came to realize the ignorance that exists in our society. I mean, maybe it’s a presumptuous of me to say, Canada because I was teaching in Edmonton. When I was asked to write about powwow by Orca publishers, their intention was to share what is my story about my journey of dance, but I put it in the context of the experience I had with these Albertan pre-service teachers,” said Pheasant-Neganiwane.

Pheasant-Neganiwane noted some inspiration she got in her writing from former member of the Canadian Senate and First Nations lawyer Murray Sinclair.

“Senator Justice Murray Sinclair did a TVOntario interview in December, 2020. And when he was asked about the situation here in Canada, as a senator, he said, ‘you know, what is at fault is our school system, our curriculum perpetuates white supremacy.’ And one of his also most often cited quote is, ‘it was education that got us in this mess, and it will be education that gets us out of this mess.”

Pheasant-Neganiwane is an Anishinaabe dancer, writer and artist and her parents are residential school survivors. She shared her personal upbringing living in Ontario in the time of the Sixties Scoop.

“I’m from Ontario, and we had the Sixties Scoop that occurred there. That means children that were apprehended in the 1960s as infants from their parents. I was an infant, a toddler in the Sixties. We had to live a very regimented life so my parents lived in fear of Child and Family Services.”

Pheasant-Neganiwane noted she was surprised to learn while living in Calgary the Prairies also experienced the Sixties Scoop.

“But the reality is the Sixties Scoop. If you were to look at the percentage, the Sixties Scoop is more prevalent here in the Prairie provinces. I didn’t know that until I lived here. Not until I met people, not until I worked in education system.”

Pheasant-Neganiwane book can be purchased through amazon at https://www.amazon.ca/Books-Karen-Pheasant-Neganigwane/s?rh=n%3A916520%2Cp_27%3AKaren+Pheasant-Neganigwane.

Pheasant-Neganiwane recalled a statistic she read regarding the connection Indigenous homeless individuals have with the child welfare system.

“I think I read a statistic somewhere that said 85 per cent of Indigenous homeless people came from the systems, that means they were in the child welfare system. So those couple of things are what provide the context of why I wrote this book.”

Pheasant-Neganiwane expressed the importance of educating generations about Indigenous culture along with history.

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