114 [S6] Inez Cook


Full show notes: https://www.adopteeson.com/listen/114

Episode Transcription by Fayelle Ewuakye. Find her on Twitter at @FayelleEwuakye

Haley - This show is listener supported. You can join us and help our show grow to support more adoptees by going to AdopteesOn.com/partner.

(intro music)

You’re listening to Adoptees On, the podcast where adoptees discuss the adoption experience. This is episode 114, Inez. I’m your host Haley Radke. I’m so honored to bring you Inez Cooke today, who is the owner of a First Nations restaurant in Vancouver called Salmon and Bannock. Inez shares her story with us, how she spent time searching for identity all around the world and how she came to find it back in Canada. We discuss finding out about the Sixties Scoop as an adult, the power and importance of food as a way to explore her culture and how her new book will be available to educate children across Canada about the Sixties Scoop. We do mention bannock a few times and I just want to tell you, that that is a name for a traditional, indigenous bread, and it’s delicious. We wrap with some recommended resources and as always, links to everything we’ll be mentioning today are on the website AdopteesOn.com. Let’s listen in.

I’m so pleased to welcome to Adoptees On, Inez Cook, welcome!

Inez - Hi, how are you?

Haley - I’m doing well. Thank you so much for coming on the show and I’m just really excited to hear your story, so would you start out with that? Would you share your story with us?

Inez - My name is Inez Cooke and I am part of the Sixties Scoop. I was born in Bella Coola, British Columbia, part of the Nuxalk nation, and I was taken away at age 1. I was put into foster care and you know, I’m one of the fortunate ones. I ended up in a home where this family, they had 8 children of their own, and I was the 23rd foster child that they’d brought in. And you know at the time, when they brought me, they said can you just bring her to her health and they said no, we’re full, we don’t have any space, we can’t do it anymore and we’re getting older and we grow to love these kids and then they get adopted out and we can't handle it anymore. And they said please just bring her to her health. So they brought me in and I was the last foster child that they’d brought in to this home. And I stayed with them for 2 years and then they tried to adopt me. And the government said they were too old to adopt me, so their daughter adopted me. So they became my grandparents. And their daughter became my mother. So I was really lucky in the fact that I really grew up in a family and surrounding of love which was great. And the people that were my siblings for the first two years ended up being my aunts and uncle. And my mother. So that was really, really cool, it kept us all really close which, so my story’s a little different than others. I recognize that not everybody has had such a good beginning I guess, like a good situation out of a bad situation I guess you could say? I mean of course we all have personal stories that we’ve gone through and nothing’s been perfect. But I have to say that I was given a family of love and I grew up knowing that I was adopted. I didn’t know the situation about why I was adopted or anything like that. And I kind of made up a story in my head, which I found out later wasn’t true, obviously. But I really, I was a dreamer and I liked making up stories and I was always writing plays when I was little and I loved making up stories about what really happened and why I was adopted. And growing up I was always told I was the chosen one, I was always told that. All the other parents had to keep what they had and we got to choose you. So they always made me feel really special which was, you know, it’s very appreciated especially now looking back and hearing other people’s stories and hearing other people’s experiences. You know, I really respect and value that, I had that core. I knew that I was native and when I was little, we moved up to, my dad got positioned at a job in Northwest Territories in Hay River. And I was in grade 2 and we moved up there and you know I saw drunk people in the ditch, I saw a lot of broken souls and scary people in my eyes as a little young girl. And I was like, who are these people? And they said they’re natives, and I just looked at them and I said, I'm not native. And that was the end of that and nobody was allowed to call me native. Ever. And you know growing up I used to try to fool people because my name was Inez, and I look like I could be Latina. I actually tried studying some Spanish trying to fool people, trying to pretend that I was Spanish. My document said that I was part Italian so I really worked that because of my Mediterranean coloring, I used to say I was Italian. You know, I really, I really hid away from myself. And I didn’t wanna know about my native heritage, I didn't wanna belong to it. But the interesting thing is, is that my whole life I felt like, I felt different. And even though I was in this great family filled with love, I felt like I was still different than everybody else. And it was more than just looking at the family photos where everybody’s blonde and fair complexion and I'm the dark one, it was more than that. I just felt like I was yearning, yearning, yearning, yearning for culture. And I felt like these mountains in Vancouver were stagnating me and I needed to jump higher and I needed to find culture. And so when I was 19 I guess, I must have just turned 19, I just finished studied radio broadcasting and I studied radio broadcasting in Vancouver. And I thought I would move to Toronto and go work for MuchMusic and you know I thought that was just gonna be easy and that was my calling. And I got there and I didn't have any experience, I was fresh outta school. So I said well I would work as an intern for free, and they said that it was unionized and there was no free positions to be had. So you know, the school of life came up. It was expensive, 1988 in Toronto, very expensive and I had to have three jobs just to pay my rent. And then I ended up moving to Montreal. And I studied French in Montreal. And the interesting thing was is, the reason I decided to move to Montreal and study French was because I had had a job interview with Wardair in 1988 in Toronto. And they said I got through my three interviews, and they said, you know what? We would love to hire you, but the other applicant speaks French. And we know that wasn’t a prerequisite, but it is definitely an asset and we’re gonna have to take them. And they said is there anything that you’d like to say. And I looked them straight in the eye and said this will be the last time anybody tells me that that is gonna be a reason that I don’t get a job. So I moved to Montreal and I studied French. And you know, I was still looking for culture and still yearning for this. I needed to meet the world and I needed the world to meet me and it was just, it was a strange, it was a strange thing. But, also backing up a little bit, when I was 13 my first job was at Boston Pizza as a dishwasher. And it’s hilarious because when I finished my radio broadcasting course, my best friend finished her university, her teaching course, and we went out to celebrate and I looked at her and I said, what do you wanna be when you grow up? And she’d just finished her teaching course and she said, I wanna be a makeup artist in film. And she’d just finished her teaching course. And I’d just finished my broadcasting and I said, I wanna be a flight attendant and own my own restaurant. And that was something that we said to each other, you know, when we were 18.

Haley - Wow.

Inez - So I had kept my toes wet my whole life working in restaurants. When I was in Toronto, I worked at 3 restaurants just to pay my bills. I was part of a team that opened up a 5 star restaurant. I was new to Toronto, I wanted to make friends. I thought I should go and work at a place where there’s a lot of people and I can meet lots of people and build like a little family and get in right away. So that’s what I did in Toronto with my three jobs, was all in restaurants. Then I moved to Montreal and I had to work under the table because I was getting my French classes paid by the government, 40 hours a week, 5 days a week French. And I needed to pay my bills, so I was working under the table in restaurants. And you know, so I kept my toes wet the whole time in the industry, and then one day there was a tiny little ad saying flight attendants urgently needed. Please call this number. Well I’d called the number all day and it was busy, busy, busy, busy, busy. I couldn’t get through. And at that time we used to be able to call the operator and do like a cross check with the number and get the address. So I showed up at the address, at this place. Like a stalker. And I said, hi I’d like to apply for the flight attendant position, and they said, uh how did you find us? And I’m like well, I have to go to work now, and I’ve been trying to call you all day and it’s been busy and I need to reach somebody. They said well do you have a resume? And I said, I’ll provide you with my resume when you provide me with an interview. And so they gave me an interview, set a date, and I went off to work. And then I started flying. So that was, 1989, I started flying for Nationair out of Montreal. And they went bankrupt, no that was 1990. So ‘93 they went bankrupt. And when they went bankrupt, we had had a contract in the Middle East in Saudi Arabia and a European airline took over the contract. And hired 23 of us Canadians who are now at the time jobless. So I went and I worked with this European airline and I was based in Saudi Arabia, Africa, India, you know all over the world. And the entire time I was still yearning for culture. And living in the Middle East, I lived there for 5 and a half years. And you know I can manage in Arabic now, shopping, taxis, restaurants. I love the food, I love the music, I had big, all my heartbreaks were there. You know, I tried to even pretend I was like Middle Eastern of some sort. Like I really felt like I belonged. But I didn’t. I didn’t belong. At the end of the day I just didn't. And when I quit flying overseas, I got hired with Air Canada back in Vancouver and my mom was ill and it was time for me to come home. And it had been the first time in a long time that Air Canada was hiring French speakers. ‘Cause I came home for Christmas, I did my Air Canada interviews and I moved back home. And just before I left, my friends over in Saudi Arabia, they threw a big party for me and because my dream was to still open a restaurant, but I thought it was gonna be my retirement goal. I thought you know, my dream was to take people on a journey. And I wanted to take people, I wanted them to feel like they’ve traveled and they’d been on this journey. Because I’ve traveled and I've seen the world and I really, really, really wanted people to experience traveling and a different experience and all of those things. And I started flying with Air Canada and there started to be, I started to meet lots of like indigenous colleagues. And these people were amazing, they were role models. So I used to ask them questions and I started asking little questions here and there. And just trying to understand you know, a little bit more about, and they were proud. They were so proud to be indigenous, proud to be First Nations. And I thought, wow, that’s just incredible, it’s amazing. And it was after I came back and after I actually got my status back, I got it reinstated. And there’d been a bill that had passed, because through the Scoop, through the Sixties Scoop, our families had to sign away our status. So I grew up without status and I got it back as an adult. But I got it back after I started flying for Air Canada. And so I never ticked off the box like visible minority. They said are you visible minority and I thought that’s the most ridiculous question I’ve ever heard. You know, I don’t feel like a visible minority and I don’t really know what that really is actually. So I answered no and it wasn’t until a couple years after I’d been flying that at the time Chief Phil Fontaine, National Chief Phil Fontaine was the National Chief. And he was on my flight and I said oh what are you doing in Vancouver? And he said well, I actually with a meeting with Air Canada, I need to make sure that they’ve hired enough, there’s a quota, they have to hire x amount of indigenous people. And I was like, really, I didn't know about that. Well I guess I’ll put my name on the list. And that was kind of the beginning when I started to kind of understand that I actually am indigenous. And once I got my status back, I could look at the picture and kind of go okay, like this is weird. But, you know, I didn't feel indigenous.

Haley - ‘Cause you had decided, in grade 2, you’re like, you’ve wrote this line in your book, “I knew I was native, but I did not want to be.”

Inez - I did not want to be. And I didn't want anybody to know either. That was like really important to me. So when I started asking questions to my colleagues, and you know one of the colleagues in my initial training at Air Canada, she’s native and I was like, oh my god, do you make bannock and she’s like, well my mom does sometimes. And I was like, oh you have to give me your recipe. And I started to get interested in like just little things. And little things that I remembered when I was little, they started to come back to me and I started to have like a larger interest. Then I get married, I get divorced, when I'm going through my divorce, I need a little getaway, I need to just get out of the city and just kinda clear my thoughts, and one of my best friends lives in Kelowna, so I go hang out with her and drink some wine and just chill. And she’s driving me back to the airport and I see a big sign, “Don’t Panic, We have Bannock.” And I'm like, oh my god, stop the car, I need to go there now. And so we stopped and we went and got bannock and I brought a bunch of it back and I told my close friend Remy, you know, the Olympics are coming to Vancouver and we don’t have an indigenous restaurant in this city anymore. Like it’s ridiculous. There’s one in Kelowna and there’s nothing in Vancouver. And the entire world is coming here. And we no longer have anything indigenous. Like, a restaurant that they can go to. Like when I travel the world I like to try food from the land, I like to try local food. So I just thought that was really odd. And he’s like, oh my god, I’ll work day and night, let’s make it happen. And I said I'm going through my divorce, I don’t have money, it’s not the right time. Anyways, things ended up kind of, doors started opening, and this lady that we knew basically needed us to sublet her restaurant. Like her daughter’s restaurant. I was like, how’s your daughter doing? You didn’t hear? She had a car accident, she can’t run her restaurant anymore. I wish somebody would take it over. So basically it was kind of like, what? All the doors kind of opened and we just dove in. And we opened Salmon and Bannock bistro, February 15th, 2010. The day after the Olympics started. And it was interesting because I had to, I wanted it authentic. And I still didn't feel that native and I didn’t feel that authentic. And so I went to a local community here and I asked who makes the best bannock? And I hired a mother and daughter team and we started super small with about 5 items on the menu. And now I mean, we’ve grown, our menu’s grown, our staff has grown. And it’s funny because I thought that after opening this restaurant, all the communities would welcome us with open arms. And that wasn’t the case at all, because I was a stranger. I was like an alien. Nobody knew me. And in the indigenous communities, in the indigenous world, especially the business world, you know you hear of business opening up, you would’ve hear of them, or you would have heard about them or you would have known someone in their family. Or you would have known something about them. But to see all over the media, that a Nuxalk person opened this restaurant, it caused a lot of alert and questions. Especially in the Nuxalk

community. They were like, who’s claiming to be Nuxalk? And we don’t know them? Like that’s impossible. So they sent in people to check it out and I guess the first people that came to check it out, saw me and met me and went back and reported back saying like, I don’t think she’s lying. She looks Nuxalk. So then they had so send in somebody older to check. And you know, it’s funny because Remy’s French and I’m First Nations and he used to get a lot of grief from a lot of people like, why are you a white person working at this native restaurant? And so I said well, you know what, I’m getting the same grief from the same people because nobody knows me. So it was interesting because this lady had come in and she was you know, asking me a ton of questions and I knew a couple of answers and thankfully I knew my biological mother’s name was Miriam. I went and got the lady her tea, and when I came back and I brought her, her tea, she was standing there with her arms extended saying, let me be the first to welcome you home, we’re family. And when that happened, that was really really, really the beginning of like an onion peeling back the layers of understanding who I am, where I come from, you know, my history, my biological mother’s story. And you know after that, several relatives came in to meet me. An uncle had come in to meet me and he had promised my late biological mother that he would find me. And when he found me he did a traditional blessing for the restaurant. And he looked at me and he said, your traditional name is gonna be Snitsmana. And he went back and reported to the community that that’s what was gonna happen. And he passed away shortly after so I was really fortunate that I had that moment with him, that special moment with him.

Haley - So what does mean for you then, to have this, oh my goodness, there is a whole other family. And you had said that in your childhood you had fantasized a little bit but none of that was true or accurate. So in your adulthood then, knowing you have this other family, and you do have this heritage, what was going on for you when you’re discovering this?

Inez - So I have a biological sister, we also met as adults. And I said well, if I'm going out there, you’re coming with me. I’m not doing this one alone. And we went up together and it was a three day potlatch. We met 500 relatives. And you know, it was like extremely emotional. It still is emotional actually. But it was a little bit, it was overwhelming because it was 2 of us and 500 of them.

Haley - Was your sister taken in the Scoop as well?

Inez - Yes.

Haley - And adopted into a different family?

Inez - Yes. And she grew up in North Van. Yeah. So it’s, it was definitely eye opening and basically just the beginning of really understanding and going to Bella Coola and meeting family and just understanding. I've been fortunate enough I've been back three times now and I've been building relationships with relatives and learning more of the story which is great. And it’s helped me immensely. And the cool thing is, is that now I realize that this restaurant is actually, it’s a personal journey that I'm taking everybody on. And I'm not taking anybody traveling far, I’m taking them traveling within and inwards in my personal journey. And that’s what makes Salmon and Bannock so special.

Haley - So as you reconnect with your sister, and you find out you know, some of the things that were actually true about your past that you just couldn’t have known since you were so young, and you learned about the Sixties Scoop, what was that like for you? Knowing what was taken from you?

Inez - I think, well when my sister phoned me and she said there’s a class action lawsuit for the Sixties Scoop and you should fill out the forms. And at first I was like, no, I’m not going to, that’s just for the people that had a rough go and I had a good life and I'm not gonna fill out the forms. And furthermore, I don’t wanna throw my family under the bus. And then I thought about it and I thought no, do you know what? Like, thank goodness I had a good life. But it’s not about that. It’s the domino effect of what happened prior which was wrong. And there’s strength in numbers so most definitely I have to sign that paper. So that’s kinda where my thoughts were.

Haley - And do you know how many other children were taken from Bella Coola?

Inez - No, I never asked actually.

Haley - I wondered, I was picturing you going back and meeting these 500 relatives and, you and your sister, and wondering how many other people were impacted by losing their connection to their children.

Inez - I mean, our biological mother, she was fluent in the Nuxalk language and when she was at the Day Residential School, the Residential Day School in Bella Coola, she spoke her language and they poured boiling hot water on her.

Haley - Oh!

Inez - Until she had third degree burns. And she was hospitalized for three months. And the family would visit her daily and the government once said, oh no, this is too much family involvement. So they uprooted her from the hospital and they transferred her to the Residential School in Alert Bay. So she never got to grow up being a daughter, a sister, she never had a mother daughter relationship with her own mother. She didn’t get to grow up with her family. And you know, it was interesting, because I’d heard different stories of how broken she was. Once I started meeting relatives and you know, about, as soon as they found me, about 100 Facebook requests came up on my Facebook feed from family in Bella Coola. And I thought how on earth could she had been so broken with such a large family? You know, I just couldn’t understand it, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Because you can only think about the experience that you’ve had with your family. So you know, if I had 500 family members that I grew up with, like I would hopefully not be in a broken state. I just couldn’t understand how that could happen. And then when I went to Bella Coola and I met relatives and I started hearing some of her stories as well as others, you know and I started putting the puzzle together and everything started to make sense and I thought, you know what it? This little girl was worth less. She was worth less all the other little girls. And when she actually finally had a small chance, a window of opportunity, when she started having her own children, being able to start a new life, a new beginning, a new traditions with her own family, she couldn’t even do that. We were taken away as well. Why? Because she was worth less. So I think about this lady and I think about everything she went through. And I think from a little girl to adulthood, she was worth less all the other girls. And that breaks my heart.

Haley - I’m so sorry, I know that she passed away before you had the opportunity to meet her. And that’s just so heartbreaking. You know, in researching the Sixties Scoop for this series and reading more about the residential schools in Canada, it’s absolutely abhorrent. I mean the things that happened and were not just happening, but like government sanctioned and just horrendous, horrendous, it’s just such a horrible part of Canada’s history. And I, you know I want people to learn about it because, Miriam, your biological mother’s a real person. And she represents so many people who had such a terrible time at the hands of our government and some very, very horrible people.

Inez - Yeah, and understanding like as a little girl, if we drove by a man in Hastings, I probably would have locked the car door, you know? And my biological mother could have been on the other side of that door window. And that breaks my heart. It’s just thinking that. It’s just, and thinking, seeing so many people still have judgement hats on. And my mom now, she has Alzheimer’s and explaining to her that I was joining the class action lawsuit at the beginning was a little bit tough for her and then I explained, I really explained to her well. But now that she has Alzheimer’s it’s interesting because she actually understands better now. And she said, sweetie I understand, it wasn’t us. And I said no, you didn’t do anything wrong, you gave this child that needed a home, a home with love. That wasn’t, that wasn’t on you, it was prior to you. Why was my mother, my biological mother broken to begin with? Why couldn’t she look after her kids, you know? And just understanding that, because it’s amazing how many people still you know, have, wear judgement hats and they really think that the colonization way was the right way. They really, people still believe that. And it just amazes me that they think that their way is the right way. And they think, oh yeah, okay so kill the Indian, wash the Indian out of the kid. Like whatever it is, like whatever we think is ancient history books. Well the last Residential school closed in ‘96. That’s not that ancient, you know?

Haley - Yeah. And the legacy of trauma and those things like, I don’t know, I don’t even have words for it. It’s so upsetting and I don’t even, I don’t have a personal relationship or experience with that. Yeah, it’s really quite shocking. You wrote about your personal story in a children’s book. And you know, we’re talking about some very difficult things here. Why did you decide to write Sixties Scoop as a children’s book?

Inez - Well I think that you know, the schools are starting to include First Nations indigenous curriculums more and more. And now that there’s dialogue being brought up about it, I think it’s important. You know we never had these stories when we were younger. We never knew anything about this. I didn’t know until I was an adult that I was a part of the Sixties Scoop. So of course I understand that there’s other adults that have never heard of it, I’m part of it and I didn’t even realize until adulthood. And so it’s interesting because I’ve had a lot of feedback from adults of course. But recently I’ve been getting feedback from children and that is just amazing. And children can handle the truth. And they can tell when you’re telling them a story whether it’s true. And you know, what they get from it, is a little bit different than when the adults get from it. But it’s opening up dialogue which I think is really important.

Haley - So I ordered your book and I've read it a few times and I've had it sitting on my coffee table. And I have two young boys. And my older is in grade 1 and he can read. And so he was picking it up and I was telling him today, I said, oh yeah, I get to talk to Inez today, she’s the one that wrote this book. And he said, oh the book with, he was so like overcome, he was so moved by it. And I do think that, I agree with you. I think that children understand what’s true and what’s not. And they do need to hear about some of the challenging things. How can we not repeat history if we don’t understand what’s happened?

Inez - Yeah and all kids, it doesn’t matter where they’re from, they’ve all felt something, like all kids have similar feelings at some time. You know, in their life. Where they don’t feel accepted of wanted or belonging or any of those things. So me just kind of spelling it out, people kind of go oh, hey, I’m not alone.

Haley - Yes.

Inez - They can relate to different parts of the book.

Haley - Yes. And you write, as I said, some very challenging experiences in here and then you also have, you know, this really happy news of finding that you have a sister. And so there’s you know, this hopeful part of reconnection which you’ve experienced in your real life. And I found it so fascinating as you were talking through your story and how the search for culture, took you literally around the world. And it was back in BC where you sort of found yourself again. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Coming back to Canada, and opening your restaurant and can you pinpoint a moment where you finally could accept sort of both parts of you? Like I’m Inez, I was adopted, and I have this loving family but I also had a history before that?

Inez - It was gradual. But after going to Bella Coola for the first time, was the first time that, that I was super accepting about learning about it. And owning it.

Haley - Looking at this, as I said, there’s kind of like these two parts of you. But how did you go from, you said, I’m gonna repeat this line again. I knew I was native but I did not want to be. To, I am indigenous and this is a part of me and I want to accept that and also be that.

Inez - And I am so proud. Now I’m so proud. And I'm so proud that guests can come into our restaurant and we get to showcase our heritage with pride, all of us and our whole team was indigenous. And I'm in the process of, Remy’s in the process of leaving the business so it’s gonna be 100% First Nations owned and operated. It was interesting ‘cause when I started learning about you know, my biological mother and lots of the heartaches and the things, you know there’s, that have caused so many problems across our nation, once it started learning about some of that. And I started sharing with my friends. You know my friends were like, oh my god, that’s terrible and like, very, very dramatic about it, as was I. But you know I was gutted. But I would tell my First Nations friends and they would just look at me like I was saying, I think I’m gonna have a tea instead of coffee today. They were just like look at me, listening, and I looked at one of my friends and I snapped my finger and I went, that. I wanna get there, how do I get there. And she said you know Inez, it’s simple because all of us have a story. And just remembering that, every single person has a story. And when they’re sharing it with you, listen to their story. you know, it’s not about judging, leave the judgement hat off and listen to their story. And I'm there now which is great, I've come full circle. And I think probably that the next time that I heard some shocking news and I realized that I was listening like it was a story, I think that’s when I realized, okay. I’m in it, I’m here. You know? And that was a really amazing feeling. It was really fantastic.

Haley - So can you talk to someone, an adoptee like yourself, who perhaps didn't really know the extent of the Sixties Scoop, maybe didn't really want to think about themselves as an indigenous person, can you talk to someone like that and just tell them what exploring this and embracing and being proud, like what that’s done for you?

Inez - So my whole life, not wanting to be who I was, and as an adult learning who I was and where I’d come from, you know knowledge is power. And you know that horrible feeling that you have in the pit in your stomach of not belonging or not feeling like, just feeling different is a horrible feeling. And learning about yourself and learning about your heritage and your history, it’s really, really, it’s the most freeing feeling you could ever imagine. And the funny thing is that now that I’ve been learning about it and I feel so good in my own skin. Like it’s the first time in my life, I feel amazing in my own skin. And it’s freedom, you know? Just feeling good in your own skin and owning that and then people just celebrate that with you.

Haley - I love that, saying I feel amazing in my own skin.

Inez - I do.

Haley - Again, we’re doing this whole circle thing. You’re describing this picture of your family, when everyone is fair and has blonde hair and your skin is the different thing in the picture to saying, I feel amazing this way. And this is me.

Inez - Yeah, well I think kids don’t like feeling different usually. You know, they wanna feel like they belong and knowing where you come from is already a foot in the right direction on how to belong, because you need to belong in your own skin, right? That’s probably the most important thing to really understand. And it didn't happen overnight, and I’m not gonna say that it did, ‘cause it didn’t.

Haley - Yeah, I mean, this is like, discovering who you are is sort of a lifelong process anyway, and then when you’re an adoptee, there’s just a whole extra layer on that I think.

Inez - Once I really felt good in my own skin, I thought that all the other people that weren’t adopted, I thought that’s how they feel their whole life. I didn’t realize that it’s just human nature to have different questions. But I just thought, I finally feel good in my own skin, this is how every single person that wasn’t adopted felt their entire life from birth? Oh my god.

Haley - So there’s this thing that a lot of adopted people, if you listen to my show, we call coming out of the fog. And what that sort of means is, it’s when you finally realize the impact adoption has had on your life. And you come to the realization of kind of just that, like, oh wait, other people don’t think about this? Where did I come from? They just know?

Inez - And then another thing is going to Bella Coola and meeting 500 relatives. I mean that’s not even all of them. And like, then asking them like, how are we related? And them saying, oh I don’t know, we have to check. That was like, what do you mean you don’t know? I thought that they would all know everything too and they don’t.

Haley - Yeah, well I guess when you have 500 relative it’s sort of like, are you first cousins, second cousins, all the things? Oh good well, thank you so much, I really appreciated chatting with you. Let’s move now and we’ll do our recommended resources. So this isn’t probably gonna be a surprise to anyone, I'm gonna recommend that you pick up Inez’s book called Sixties Scoop. As I said, it’s a children’s book, but it is so profound in the matter of fact way that you share your story. And I really feel that adults also will be very moved reading your story in this fashion. And oh my gosh the illustrations are really quite incredible, Inez. Where did you find your artist?

Inez - Yeah, well he found me, actually. Jason Eaglespeaker. He’s the illustrator and he also published it. And so he actually reached out to me and asked if I felt like sharing my story.

Haley - It’s really beautiful, really, really beautiful. And also I wanna recommend that people go and visit your restaurant, and I come to Vancouver semi regularly. So next time I’m there I definitely wanna come. I’m celiac, but I saw that you do gluten free bannocks so—

Inez - Yes. And make sure you say that when you reserve.

Haley - Okay, I will. I will.

Inez - If you’re around on June 21st, that’s National Indigenous People’s Day. We have a fantastic evening set up, it’s gonna be filled with laughter and delicious food. So we have two comedians coming in, there’s gonna be two seatings, an early one and a late one, and yeah, I recommend that people come in and book for that.

Haley - Oh it looks amazing, and researching you, I saw that Salmon and Bannock is in the top ten restaurants on TripAdvisor for all of Vancouver which is like, you guys, Vancouver is a huge city. There’s thousands of restaurants. And your reviews, I was getting really hungry.

Inez - Awesome.

Haley - Yeah, so, yeah if you’re around in June, that sounds really great. Now there’s also another thing that, you wanted to just give a little bit of advice. Something that you didn’t know when you were first kind of on this journey. But if you are a First Nations person, what’s something that you didn’t know, that you know now but that people need to know?

Inez - Yeah so I think the one thing that shocked me the most is that I didn't know being a First Nations person, that I could just call the Nuxalk Band Office and say, hi, my name’s Inez, and my mother’s name is Miriam, and do you know any information about her. Is she there? I didn’t know that I could do that. And learn about it, like from the beginning. I didn’t know that.

Haley - So there’s info available if you just ask. And you can just call the Band Office.

Inez - Yeah, exactly.

Haley - Yeah, great.

Inez - And like, when I called the Band Office for the first time, it was like, the girl was like, oh I’m your cousin.

Haley - Of course!

Inez - Of course.

Haley - You have 500 relatives there, right? Oh my gosh, I love that, that’s so good. Okay, where we can we connect with you online?

Inez - So I have, I’m on Instagram, I think my personal one, well if you check Inez Cook, it should come up. I think it’s, @imisky.

Haley - I will link to your social media handles in the show notes. And what’s your restaurant’s website?

Inez - www.salmonandbannock.net.

Haley - And that’s where you can make reservations, especially for the upcoming National Indigenous People’s Day which is that June 21st dinner and comedy that you were telling us about.

Inez - Yes.

Haley - That would be great, okay. And if you go, I wanna hear about it, so you gotta message me and tell me how it was. I love standup. That’s so good. And good food. Thank you, thank you so much for sharing your story with us and I just really, so impressed by your story and oh my gosh, I’m going back to now, having that moment with your friend when you’re 18 and you wanna be a flight attendant and have your own restaurant. And you’re living it!

Inez - I am living it. I’m actually going to London tonight.

Haley - Well thank you so much for squeezing me in.

Inez - Yeah! It’s my pleasure, thanks for having me.

Haley - I just wanna let you know, that Inez’s book, Sixties Scoop, is available on Amazon and it’s now on both English and French. So make sure you go check that out, it’s such a great resource and would be a welcome addition to, especially your school library, if you have children of your own, and you wanna talk to them more about the Sixties Scoop and educate them. I think this is a perfect resource for that. I just want to shift gears and say a giant thank you to everyone for listening. I so appreciate having the opportunity to be in your earbuds every week, helping you through your boredom of your commute or working out, or walking the dog or whatever you’re doing while you’re listening. It is an honor and I don’t take it lightly. And I also wanna say thank you to my monthly Patreon supporters. Without you I wouldn’t be able to keep doing this show regularly, and I'm just so honored that you support the show in this way. If you want to become a monthly partner you can go to AdopteesOn.com/partner to find out more details and the added benefits of becoming a Patreon supporter. We have things like a secret group for adoptees only and also there is a totally new Adoptees Off Script podcast. So if you’re running out of AdopteesOn episodes to binge, there is another whole podcast there waiting for you if you become a monthly supporter. Thanks for listening, let’s talk again next Friday.

(exit music)

112 [S6] Christine Miskonoondinkwe Smith


Full show notes: http://www.adopteeson.com/listen/112

Episode Transcription by Fayelle Ewuakye. Find her on Twitter at @FayelleEwuakye

This show is listener supported. You can join us and help our show grow to support more adoptees, by going to AdopteesOn.com/partner.

(intro music)

You are listening to AdopteesOn, the podcast where adoptees discuss the adoption experience. This is episode 112, Christine. I’m your host Haley Radke. We are continuing our series on the Canadian Sixties Scoop. And today, I’m honored to introduce you to Christine Miskonoondinkwe Smith. Christine shares her story of being apprehended from her original family, adopted with her sister, and then ultimately going back into care as a young girl. She tells us about how she reconnected with her indigenous heritage, and how some influential role models made all the difference for her. We wrap up with some recommended resources, and as always, links to everything we’ll be talking about today are over on AdopteesOn.com. Let’s listen in.

(upbeat music)

Haley- I’m so pleased to welcome to AdopteesOn, Christine Miskonoondinkwe Smith. Welcome, Christine!

Christine – Hello.

Haley – I’m so excited to chat with you today and I’d love for you to just start out by sharing your story with us please.

Christine – I’m Christine Miskonoondinkwe Smith, I am from Peguis First Nation in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I was adopted out from my family. My biological family, when I was three years old. And adopted into a non-native family in another province, which is Ontario. So I grew up without knowing my community, my language, and my traditions. And ultimately the situation I went into was not healthy. And l ended up in care, ended up back in care at the age of 10, after being with my adoptive parents for 7 years, I think that’s 7 years. So I not only was taken away from my community and my family, I was also a product of the foster care system. That was very difficult. But there were some people in my life who stepped in and kind of helped me out, were role models. And helped me to stay on the right path, I guess you could say.

Haley - Okay, so when you said you were adopted at age three, did your biological family relinquish you, or were you apprehended?

Christine - My sister and I were apprehended together and we were adopted together but we were told that our mom was neglectful and that is why we were taken away from her. And also that she drank and a whole bunch of other negative stuff.

Haley - Right, but the stereotypical things that the government was kind of using as excuses to apprehend, okay. And so you and your sister were adopted together when you were put back into care at age 10. What happened to your sister?

Christine – My sister stayed with the adoptive family I was with, I had been adopted by. So, we went 7 years without contact with each other and then she came back into my life when I was, I think 17. She showed up at my independent living home that the children’s aid had put me into. And we’ve established a relationship since then.

Haley – Wow, okay, there’s a lot of stuff there, my goodness. Can you tell me a little bit more about going into care after you’ve had an adoptive placement, which sounded like it was not a good situation for you. Were you in different foster homes before the independent living home? What did that look like for you, your young adult, teenage years, I should say?

Christine – My first home was actually a home for troubled girls. I was the youngest there. I was only 10 and the kids there were like 14, 15, and 16 years old. I stayed there for a year. And then when I met a worker there at the group home, and they decided they wanted to just take me home with them. That was my first foster home, so I was around 11, I think. And then that wasn’t very good either, ‘cause I was very troubled at that age. I don’t blame them for what happened. But at that age, I thought if anyone, if my parents, if my adoptive parents can’t love me, then why should I let anyone else love me? So I started running away and they called the police of course, and then I’d be sent back to live with them. And all that began when I was 11. But it stopped when I was 13, when I went to my third foster home. Because the third foster home I went to, they actually showed me that they gave a damn. Pardon my language.

Haley – Mmhmm.

Christine – But they said to me, one day I got really really angry. And I was gonna take off on them. And they stood at the front of their porch and they said, if you step off this sidewalk, and leave, then you’re not gonna come back here. And for some reason that clicked in my brain that yeah, they wanted me there. I suffered a lot of mental health issues, a lot of trauma from what I went through. And they also went through trying to deal with that with me. I’d developed anorexia, and I harmed myself by cutting and by taking pills when I, if I wanted to numb myself. But that, like I didn’t, the anorexia was a good part of my teen years. And so was the harming myself. The pill taking didn’t start til I was 17 and my adoptive father showed up back in my life. I thought that by him showing up back in my life, I could prove to him that he could love me. So I basically, I guess I thought I could give him a second chance. That, if he could come back into my life, and love me, I would be okay. But instead it caused more trauma. And I did end up having to cut him out of my life entirely. Which is something I, I wouldn’t say I regret. But I learned a lesson from that, and the lesson I learned from that was that there are people in your life who are gonna be toxic. There are gonna be people in your life who are positive and you have to learn to discern between the two of them and stick with the people who are positive. Learn from the people who are positive that you treat yourself the way, you treat others the way you treat yourself. I don’t know if that makes sense, I don’t know if I—

Haley – No, it totally makes sense. And you, I think on your Facebook page, just a little bit ago I was looking back and it said something like that. Like you really wanna keep positive people around you and I understand that. When we’re healing from a lot of different traumatic things, just as adopted people, you don’t wanna keep bringing trauma into your life. Christine, can we go back, something that you said was that there was people in your life that were those positive influences. And so you were, they were kind of stepping back in and helping you in some fashion. Can you talk a little bit about that and also, I don’t know if this is connected or not, so you were transracially adopted. And you were taken to Ontario, you were born in Manitoba. How about connecting back with your heritage and your culture?

Christine – Being transracially adopted was actually a very difficult thing because I experienced a lot of hostility, a lot of discrimination. John Jorns speaks about that in his thesis about how he felt, how you can feel excluded from just little things. And knowing that I was different, I knew right from the start of course, that I was different, because I was brown skinned and they weren’t. I got back into my culture, or connected back with my culture I should say, when I moved to Toronto after living in Windsor for 20 years, for my 20 years or whatever. I think it was whatever, I can’t even, sorry.

Haley – That’s okay, so what decade of your life were you in when you were reconnecting with your culture?

Christine – I was in my mid, I would say I was in my mid 20s to my 30s.

Haley – Okay.

Christine – I’m still reconnecting now and I’m in my mid 40s now.

Haley – Can you give an example of some of those little things? I mean probably now we might call microaggressions, things that made you feel other or less than from your adoptive family. Or just growing up transracially, taken out of your community.

Christine – I always knew that I was different because I remember as far back as grade three, sitting in class, and a kid saying, I don’t like you because you’re brown. And we lived in affluent suburb where I was adopted into. And I was always the last one picked for groups, teams, everything. My adoptive parents made it known that they didn’t want me, they wanted my sister. They always told me that oh if you make it to the age of 25, you’re gonna be either in jail, or dead. So it was the typical stereotypes that they fell back on.

Haley – Was your sister younger?

Christine – Uh no, my sister’s actually 10 months older than me.

Haley – Okay. Did it make a difference for you to have her with you? It sounds like they were kind of pushing you against each other in some way, but I don’t know.

Christine – Uh yeah, they were striving to put us against each other a lot, when we were together. And she could do no wrong, so anything that was done, it was blamed on me. My sister’s side of the story is different, she thinks that she basically tried to save me from what happened. But in essence, I’ve told her no, because it was me that ended up taking a different path and getting away from our adoptive parents. Even though they instigated it by, I mean, putting me back into care.

Haley – Yeah, I’ve heard of rehoming before and I’ve heard of adoptive parents saying like, yeah we just can’t do it. But I haven’t heard of that where there’s two siblings and one is, one they’re like no, we can’t. Yeah, that’s really shocking. Okay, so Christine, I’m curious about that time in your mid 20s to 30s, what does reconnecting look like for you? Did you have, like what kind of friend group did you have? Did you have to actively seek out other indigenous people? Or what did that look like? Where were you living and kind of walk us through that if you would.

Christine – I basically had to actively seek out other people, other indigenous people. It helped at the time that I had a worker who was introducing me to the various things in the community, in the indigenous community. And I ended up volunteering at the Native Canadian Centre.

Haley – You ended up volunteering at the Native Canadian Centre? What is that?

Christine – It’s a Friendship Centre in Toronto. I was brought there by a worker who thought it would be good for me to be involved in something, ‘cause I was suffering from depression and extreme anxiety. I started the process of working there. Not working there, but volunteering there, I mean. And I met various people and through my volunteer work, I was able to take part in watching events take place, like different workshops, ceremonies, and stuff like that. And it made me want to go further so I basically signed up to go back to school. I had always wanted to have a post secondary education so I did that. And I got accepted into the Academic Bridging Program at the University of Toronto. And I did a year of studies there, got accepted into studies part time. And from there, I started taking Aboriginal Studies. Because I wanted to understand the history of my people better. And I wanted to know why there were so many stereotypes around us as a people. And that was when I met a professor in my first year of studies, Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, who told me right from the start, don’t be afraid. And speak up. And she was a mentor for me for, she’s still a mentor for me, but it was very enlightening for me to have a professor show interest in me and show, tell me that I could be a lot more than I had been told.

Haley – In your studies or at the Native Canadian Centre, did you meet any other people that had a similar story to you that were apprehended or adopted or in foster care?

Christine – I didn’t really know too many people that, like I had heard about residential schools, that kind of thing, but I didn’t really meet a lot of people in regards to that and the Sixties Scoop until I was, I found out about the national child welfare group in Ottawa. And I went to their very first gathering. I traveled to Ottawa and I stayed in Ottawa and I stayed for the, what they did, and they talked about trauma, they talked about how we weren’t alone.

Haley – So was this a gathering of people from the Sixties Scoop?

Christine – Yes.

Haley – Okay.

Christine – I missed the next gathering but I’ve been to the last two. And the most inspiring thing that they have given me is a sense of family again. Because I have friends now who know what I’ve been through, who understand what I’ve been through, and they, they’re very supportive. Even if it is, even if we only meet them once a year. They’re so very supportive online and you know.

Haley – Oh yeah, I get it, I totally get it. There’s nothing like being with other adoptees in person and then also for an adoptee who’s had a similar experience to you. So that’s amazing that you’re able to gather and do that and it sounds like there is some training and things that happen, teaching about trauma, and that’s excellent. I’ll have to put a link to that in the show notes so people can find out more information. What are some of the best ways that you have found to not look back at things positively? Like I know there’s a lot of really challenging, difficult things that happen to you. But how have you been able to become more of a positive person and you know, you say you choose to surround yourself with positive people. Do you wanna talk a little bit about that? Like how did you decide, I have to move forward?

Christine – There was a time, probably when I was in my, when I was from 17 to early 20s, I was in a just very negative spot. And I was, I know for a fact that I was very draining to be around because I was so down on myself and so, like oh who cares kind of thing. Again it was role models that stepped in and helped me. There were people as I was growing up, teachers, or like in my studies, professors, or the people in Ottawa who helped me to see that if I wanted to change, I could. And I chose to break the cycle of what had happened in my family by going back to school, getting my undergraduate degree, and then going and getting my master’s degree. And deciding that the friends that I made along the way were people that I wanted in my life because they continuously supported me, encouraged me, and if I got down, they’d say, no think about this in another way. Instead of thinking about it in a way that would get me more upset.

Haley – Mmhmm.

Christine – So I kept in touch with a couple people from when I was younger. And they're even surprised. Well, I wouldn’t say surprised, but maybe wow, you’ve come a long way. And I don’t like to, I guess say toot my own horn, but I have come a long way. And I do thank the people that have helped me to see that I am a lot more than what my adoptive parents let me believe, and what society has led me to believe.

Haley – Mmhmm.

Christine – The government played a huge role in trying to decimate our people. And even though that makes me angry, I try to rise above it and I try to, right when I started free dancing with my writing, I only wanted to focus on the positive, because that’s all we heard in the news was, the stereotypical news about First Nations people. I wanted to focus on the positives so I would do stories on people who were successful. People who were making steps for themselves or looking out for other people in our community.

Haley – What would you tell us about the impact the Sixties Scoop has had on your community? And what, just a really, simple, easy question. And then what hasn’t changed, or what has changed? Even now? I interviewed Dr. Raven Sinclair as well and she was telling me about the very, very percentages of kids in care are still indigenous. Can you speak to that a little bit?

Christine – There is a very high overrepresentation of indigenous kids in care. I happen to one of the fortunate ones to come out of it. But in recent news, there was a little baby in Winnipeg who died while in care and that shouldn’t have happened. Injustice of that and the injustice towards Tina Fontaine, and how she was ignored is really infuriating. And I believe that the government even though they say they want reconciliation and they want to work with us, I don’t think they're ready. Or if they are ready, they're being very slow about it. And they're not changing their stance towards how they see us. They see us as wards of the state which is not what we are. We’re independent First Nations and we should be treated as such. And the overrepresentation of children in care is just an extension, I believe, of continuing not only residential schools, era, but the Sixties Scoop era. Communities have been majorly affected. I know for a fact that when I went back to my own community, I didn’t feel like I was a part of my community because I have, I’ve never been on reserve. So I even remember my own uncle laughing, even though I know he was doing it in jest, I remember saying, having misconceptions about my reserve and I would ask questions and they’d be like, well no, that’s not true, this is what happens. And it’s just, it fractures communities. And the government, even though they're trying to invest so many dollars into child welfare, they need to take action and they need to not pay lip service anymore. Because lip service doesn’t get you anywhere. It just says, oh yeah, we’ll do something, but it doesn’t do anything. And it doesn’t take back what Sixties Scoops kids have lost or what residential school era people have lost. I lost having a connection with my family even though I’ve found some of them on Facebook. I had 13 years with my biological mother before she passed in 2017. And a lot of people say, oh you’re lucky that you had that 13 years. But I wish I had had more. I can say that. I wish I had been able to have grown up with her and I wish that I was able to speak my language with her. And to grow up knowing the different things that she did. But I’m now hearing that secondhand Because her voice is gone.

Haley – I’m sorry. I’m sorry for your loss, that’s heartbreaking. So, you reconnected with her, and you know, knowing now what you know about the Sixties Scoop, and how social workers were really given a mandate to apprehend indigenous kids, sort of, it was almost no matter what. There was likely not a reason for you to be apprehended. Is that right?

Christine – I mean yeah. There was no reason for us to be apprehended. Sure, my mom led a tough life. From what I understand, from what she told me, and from what I’ve learned through my own understanding of the history and everything. The highest apprehension rates were in Manitoba. And in the prairies as far as I understand. Because I done a lot of research on that area. I’m writing a memoir about my, snapshots of my life, of being in care in the Sixties Scoop. And I think the child welfare workers worked as, worked in cahoots with the govt basically. And the high apprehension rates are still something that needs to be addressed, like why are they still taking indigenous children away, especially in an era that they’re saying is truth and reconciliation?

Haley – Yeah. Well and, this is the piece I don’t understand, why there’s such a disconnect. Why, you know, broad sweeping strokes the government is, doesn’t like obviously, the parenting style in general, of indigenous families. And yet, so much of the trauma, you know, we talk about trauma being passed down generationally, you were mentioning too, residential schools. And it’s like you don’t even get a chance, it’s just, I say it again, it’s so heartbreaking to me to hear these stories about the brokenness. And what I love about your story Christine is, is all the ways that you have tried to reconnect and relearn about your culture and also be a positive force for your own life, but also in your community. And helping other people move forward as well. And the thing is, like if we don’t look back on this time, like we’re still repeating the same mistakes. I think it’s kind of sick actually, that a lot of Canadians don’t understand about the Sixties Scoop. We hear about residential schools, but honestly, I don’t think we get it. So I’m thankful for your wisdom on this and sharing what you’ve learned about and you write about. And yeah, I appreciate that. Do you have anything else that you wanna tell us about that or, you know, you’re not just talking to Canadians, you’re also talking to Americans and other adopted people around the world. What are some lessons we can learn here? And especially for adopted people, like, what can we be doing to change what’s happening right now? ‘Cause we don’t want there to be future adoptees with trauma. How do we move forward and how do we change things?

Christine – I think that we have to basically band together, be accepting of each other, and not engage in any lateral violence towards each other. We’ve all been through various amounts of trauma in one way or another. And we can't let that destroy us, we have to band together and let each other know that we support each other. And it’s important if you know your truths, to stick to your truths. And to also, if you know your story, and you wanna share your story, it’s important that we share our story so that this doesn’t happen to younger generations. My favorite quote from Thomas King of all people, is the truth about stories is that’s all we are. And I believe that full heartedly, wholeheartedly. We are all stories in action and we have to, we just gotta try to stay positive I guess. I don’t know if I’m making any sense


Haley – Yeah, no you are, you are! I think, do you see this too? I see a lot of wasted energy on telling each other that, or fighting with each other, I think that’s what you mean by the lateral violence, right? There’s so much wasted energy there, or like swapping trauma comparisons. And it’s like, this is not moving us forward in any fashion. Yes, yes, I agree, that’s good. Okay, is there anything else that you want to share about your story or comment on before we do recommended resources?

Christine – I forgot to mention about the role models in my life. I don’t know if I touched on that or not. But I think it’s important for people to be role models to each other. And to understand that if we can, we can be role models to each other, then we’re breaking the cycle of what’s happened to us in the past. And I've always wanted to become more than what my adoptive parents said that I was gonna be or not be, I mean. And one of my mottos is obstacles can be overcome. And that’s what I’ve done. I’ve overcome my obstacles, I’m still working on some obstacles. But amplifying the indigenous voice is also something that’s very important to me too.

Haley – Absolutely. That’s so necessary ‘cause we’re definitely not caring enough about it, I agree. Thank you for sharing your story with us, and I want to go ahead and do recommended resources. And I want to recommend a book. A listener actually sent me a link to this and so I ordered it. It’s called, Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects. And it’s an anthology. And actually most of the stories and poems and things are from U.S. adoptees. But there is a whole section at the back that’s called First Nations Canada. And again it’s little vignettes, parts of people’s stories, there’s some poetry in here. And I haven’t finished reading all of it, but, I think just like you said, we all have a story and if you are in a place where you can share your story, I think that is where change comes from. And so I love for reading other adoptees’ stories, and it’s so inspiring. And this particular edition I have is the second edition. And it has a few changes that are noted. But in the afterword, I found it was really, really powerful. They're talking about how, the Sixties Scoop in Canada, but also what’s happened in the U.S. in the same time frame is a genocide. And it’s such a strong word and yet what else do you call it? So I really, I recommend that book, and I recommend that in general, we need to be looking more into the Sixties Scoop and understanding it so we can’t make these same mistakes again. Because it’s, I know I said this already, but it’s just shocking to me that so many Canadians don’t even understand that this is what’s happened and it’s continuing to happen in my opinion to this day. Okay. Christine, what did you wanna recommend today?

Christine – I’ve got like, quite a bit of information that I can fall back on and one of the most important books I’ve, I think, is called Stolen From Our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and The Restoration of Aboriginal Communities. It’s written by Suzanne Fornier and Ernie Crey. That book has been my mainstay for when I was doing my studies. And it made me understand my people’s history, the Sixties Scoop stuff and all that other. It challenges readers to rethink the illusion painted by the Canadian government about how effective child welfare policies are. Another book I would mention is, Raised Somewhere Else by Colleen Hele-Cardinal. That just was, that was just recently published. It’s her experience, Colleen’s experience I mean, growing up as a Sixties Scoop.

Haley – Was she was an adoptee?

Christine – She was an adoptee.

Haley – So it’s her memoir?

Christine- It’s her memoir, yes. And then the person that I, there’s like several people that I know that are really good, that are really invested in the topic of child welfare and I mean First Nation’s child welfare. And one of them is Cindy Blackstock. And she’s in charge of First Nations Caring Society in Ottawa. And she’s also a professor of social work. And she’s somebody that I, like if you can read any of her work or follow her on Twitter, I would highly recommend that, ‘cause she’s always got tidbits that are very thought provoking and interesting to read.

Haley – I was looking her up before we talked because you sent me her name. And I’m looking at her profile on McGill’s website and she has got a lot of honorary doctorates from all over. Oh that’s so cool, thank you, I love that. Alright, wonderful. Was there anything else? You mentioned this in our interview, but did you want to tell us about John Martin Doran’s thesis?

Christine- I think that’s an important thesis also because it talks about the way he was adopted into, I believe it was a Mennonite family.

Haley – So his thesis is called A Long Way Home: First Nations Adoptions and Reparations and it’s by John Martin Doran. So you were saying he was adopted likely into a Mennonite family?

Christine – And he talks in his thesis about various factors of what happened to him and what’s happened to other adoptees who have been adopted into, transracially adopted. And he, it’s just very enlightening I think. Like it’s just, I can’t explain it all because it’s very detailed.

Haley – Sure, and you know it goes back to that same thing, right? There’s so much power in our stories. And I think just learning about each other’s experiences and especially when we find those common connections, like oh my goodness, me too. It’s so powerful and so healing to know that we’re not the only ones. Thank you, thank you so much Christine. Where we connect with you online?

Christine – You can reach me on Facebook at Miskonoodinkwe Smith. On Twitter @Miskonoodinkwe.

Haley – Well I’ll put links to your social media, and your email in the show notes if that’s okay.

Christine – Yeah.

Haley – And people can connect with you those ways.

Christine- Okay.

Haley – Wonderful, thanks so much for your time, and I really appreciated your insights into your own experiences and also insights into the Sixties Scoop.

(upbeat music)

If you have an idea for a great guest for our Canadian Sixties Scoop series, connect me on social media, let me know who you think I should be interviewing. We are on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook @AdopteesOn and you can find links to all social media as well on AdopteesOn.com. I’d love to connect with you there. And a huge thank you as always to my monthly supporters. You guys are making this show possible so thank you so much for your ongoing generosity. And I just want to invite you if you’re finding AdopteesOn helpful and valuable and want it to continue, come and partner with us, AdopteesOn.com/partner, helps to keep the show going. I’m so honored that you took time to listen today. Next week we will be back with Boundaries, Part 2 with Lesli Johnson and then we’ll be continuing on in the Sixties Scoop series. Thanks so much for listening, let’s talk again next Friday.