It's been on the mind of Canadians, certainly Aboriginal Canadians, all week - the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's executive summary. Meeting Ground takes you inside that summary's more than 350 pages, nearly every one difficult to read.
If you are an Aboriginal offender in Saskatchewan you are more likely to face harsher consequences, that's why Saskatoon criminal defence lawyer Michael Nolin is calling for an inquiry. He says in Saskatchewan we lock up more Aboriginal people than just about any place in Canada, and we also has one of the highest percentages of Aboriginal People designated as dangerous offenders.
There's a lot of talk about the Mars One Mission but in Saskatchewan some Aboriginal students are asking important questions that could impact how astronauts and future space travelers eat. Meeting Ground's Kelly Malone speaks with students about space tomatoes.
Kelly Malone has the Meeting Ground weekly News Update
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More indigenous top news and stories from the Prairies and the country
Saskatoon 60s Scoop victims open dialogue on lost generation
Lynn Thompson will forever remember the day a group of white social workers came to take her and her sisters from their home on the Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba.
She remembers the smell of the trunk of the van where she and her sisters were stuffed into and whisked away from their families.
"I remember being told to run to the bushes as fast as I could. I wasn't able to run fast enough with a little girl on my back and a little girl on my arm," she said.
The then three-year-old Thompson was one of 70 children taken from Pine Creek over the course of a couple days.
Between 1960 and the mid 1980s, and estimated 20,000 First Nations kids were yanked from their communities and either placed in foster care or adopted by Caucasian families in what has become known as the 60s Scoop.
Thompson spent 14 years moving between some 30 foster homes and two adoptions and endured physical and psychological abuse to the point where she shot herself. She said she never received proper care for the physical and emotional wounds.
Now fully grown, survivors are trying to find a way home, acceptance from their First Nations communities and a balance between their two worlds.
On Friday, Thompson hosted what she hopes is the first of many speaking events at Station 20 West. Survivors shared the history of the scoop and their personal stories to educate Canadians and start a process of healing.
Read more here
Manitoba to apologize to '60s Scoop survivors
Manitoba is set to apologize to aboriginals who were taken from their parents decades ago and adopted into non-aboriginal families.
The apology, thought to be the first by a Canadian province, is directed at individuals from the so-called '60s Scoop, which many see as an extension of Indian residential schools policy.
Premier Greg Selinger said the apology, expected next week in the legislature, will acknowledge damage done to those taken from their homes and their culture. Manitoba was one of the provinces most affected, so it is appropriate that it be among the first to apologize, he said.
"It's an acknowledgment that they did lose contact with their families, their language, their culture," Selinger told The Canadian Press. "That was an important loss in their life and it needs to be acknowledged. It's part of the healing process."
Adoptees have been calling for a federal apology and many want compensation for their experience, which they say was as traumatic as that suffered by residential school survivors.
Selinger said he hopes the apology prompts the federal government to say it's sorry.
"These policies were initiated at the federal level all across the country. We're acknowledging the harms done in Manitoba and the need for healing in Manitoba. We'd like to see the federal government address it on a pan-Canadian level as well."
Read more here
UPDATED: Saskatoon judge sentences woman for death of teens
A woman who was drunk behind the wheel of a stolen truck when she killed two teenagers was sentenced Friday in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench.
Cheyann Crystal Peeteetuce pleaded guilty to seven charges stemming from the May 2014 incident, including two counts of criminal negligence causing the deaths of J.P. Haughey and Sarah Wensley, both 17.
Justice Ted Zarzeczny pointed to Peeteetuce's aboriginal heritage and a lengthy history of abuse and neglect in handing down a total sentence of six years. He also noted that Peeteetuce's grandparents were residential school survivors and that this likely contributed to the dysfunction in her own upbringing.
Quoting from reports commissioned ahead of sentencing, Zarzeczny revealed that Peeteetuce grew up in an abusive home with an alcoholic and often absent mother. The young Peeteetuce witnessed numerous acts of domestic violence by her stepfather, and was beaten several times herself. At one point, her stepfather reportedly tried to drown her.
The reports noted Peeteetuce left school in Grade 9 while pregnant with her daughter. After the child's birth, she descended further into substance abuse and prostitution. She joined the Indian Posse street gang for protection after being swarmed and stabbed by members of the rival Native Syndicate. Peeteetuce had another child, a son, who died while still an infant. The child was in the care of his father when he died of a drug overdose.
The Crown had asked for a sentence of 12 years for Peeteetuce's crimes. The families of the two dead teens reacted with shock as Zarzeczny delivered his decision.
Read more here.
Foster care spaces not being found fast enough: Sask. minister
Actively recruiting and finding more foster homes in Saskatchewan is a continuous effort for the province, according to the Minister of Social Services.
Minister Donna Harpauer is responding to last week's news that foster children are having to live in a Regina hotel since current foster homes and emergency spaces are all full.
"We want to keep in mind hotels (are) the last resort and not something anyone wants to see and it is rare," the minister conceded.
Since April 2014, there have been six occasions when hotels were needed. The most recent was last week when 13 kids were put up. Harpauer stated that six of those children were found a different place to live over the weekend, and another four were expected to be moved on Monday. However, another three came into the system. That means there are still kids calling hotels home for the time being.
"It's safer, obviously, than the home situation they were in. We need to do what we need to do," she explained.
Harpauer said the province is constantly working with the Saskatchewan Foster Families Association and other stakeholders to try and find more homes for kids to temporarily live. She said a shortage of foster families is a problem right across the country.
Read more here
Foster kids not considered 'human:' advocate
Manitoba's new First Nations family advocate says Manitoba doesn't treat children in care and their families as "human."
Cora Morgan, who was appointed by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs last week, said the province's child welfare system is broken. Child and Family Services are taking children into care too quickly and it's virtually impossible for parents to regain custody.
Children in care are being put up in hotels and languishing in jail without a proper support system for families in crisis that would prevent kids from being apprehended in the first place, she said.
"There is a lack of humanity in the way that CFS operates," Morgan told The Canadian Press. "These children in care and these families, I don't see that they're being recognized as human.
"Every single individual needs to feel loved. Where do you find that growing up in a hotel room?"
Manitoba has more than 10,000 children in care and the vast majority are aboriginal. The system has been under scrutiny for years following several high profile deaths and assaults of children in care.
Most recently, Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross tearfully promised to stop using hotels to house kids in care after a young girl was seriously assaulted in March. Both the victim and the youth charged in the assault were in the care of Child and Family Services at a downtown Winnipeg hotel.
The child welfare system came under fire last August when 15-year-old Tina Fontaine was killed after running away from a hotel where she was in government care. Her great-aunt had contacted child welfare when she had difficulty managing the teen. The teen's body was found wrapped in a bag in the Red River.
Read more here.
APTN: Calls for public inquiry into Saskatchewan’s over incarceration of Aboriginal people
Frederick Knife was 30 days away from his statutory release date on a manslaughter sentence in the Saskatchewan Penitentiary when he attacked an inmate he believed was going to kill him.
The victim survived, but the Crown never wanted Knife to see the outside world again and tried to have him labeled a dangerous offender meaning he could be held indefinitely in 2013.
Knife was 28-years-old and had two adult convictions on his record – the aggravated assault conviction for the prison attack and the other for manslaughter that put him in there when he was 19.
The judge said Knife, a father of three and former member of the Indian Posse street gang, didn’t fit the criteria of a dangerous offender (DO) partly because he was too young and that he didn’t have a long enough criminal past as an adult.
Instead, he was sentenced to eight years and was classified as a long-term offender (LTO). With time served, Knife had four years remaining. He is appealing the LTO designation that comes with a strict 10-year supervision order upon release from prison.
But not every Aboriginal offender is, arguably, as lucky as Knife in the Prairie province.
Read more here.
Meeting Ground honoured the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA)
Meeting Ground picked up the Adrienne Clarkson Award for diversity. The Journey of Indigenous Gender Identity aired on CKOM's Meeting Ground and featured coverage of two spirit issues.
Journey of Indigenous Gender Identity
Jack Saddleback sat in a coffee shop in Saskatoon, remembering the moment he recognized that the spirituality he had been raised with and known all of his life, may not accept him anymore.
Saddleback was raised on the Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta. He explained that growing up he was always a "tomboy" and the community supported his "rough and tumble" attitude. As Saddleback got older, his family was not as quick to accept him. Saddleback is a transgender man.
"My family started to encourage me to act more female, be more effeminate in ways... like wear pink, play with dolls, be dainty," Saddleback said.
"That was an indication of that inter-generational trauma, that you can't be this gender queer person because the world is going to bully you, the world is going to discriminate against you. That was eye opening."
A member of a very supportive family, once Saddleback explained that he needed to explore his gender identity, his parents wanted to help in any way that they could. But they wouldn't be able to shield Saddleback from everything.
The story that Saddleback is recollecting on a warm fall day in Saskatoon came a few years after he had already spoken with most of his family about his gender identity. In a big move on a personal level, Saddleback had finally come out to his grandparents and was surprised by how understanding they were.
Read and listen to the full piece here.
Kelly Geraldine Malone is a freelance journalist, podcaster, and radio producer based out of Manitoba, Canada