CBC Digital Archives

Our Native Land: Stolen generations

On Saturday afternoons for 21 years, dedicated listeners would "get their bannock and tea," and tune into CBC Radio for news from Our Native Land. The first - and so far only - national radio program focused on native issues and cultures, it chronicled the rejuvenation of native literature, art, culture and political activism beginning in 1965. Hosts included Johnny Yesno, Bernelda Wheeler, Albert Angus and Brian Maracle, who were part of the all-aboriginal production team.

A new report shines a light on the "sixties scoop," where unusually high numbers of native children were put into foster care or adopted, usually by white families. The phenomenon began in the 1960s, author Patrick Johnston tells Our Native Land - and it lasted until Johnston's groundbreaking 1983 study forced government action. The show starts with the week's news, then interviews Johnston. Next, journalists Michael Valpy and Rob Sheppard analyze the effectiveness of native lobbying for constitutional recognition. The show closes with stories from three bands running their own child welfare services. 
• Patrick Johnston's book Native Children and the Child Welfare System publicized the child welfare conditions and racist attitudes that resulted in high numbers of native kids being raised in non-native homes or in foster care. His book sparked major changes to the child welfare system.

• Despite this, native children, especially those living in northern and remote areas of Canada, continue to have the poorest quality of life, according to a study released by the Institute for Public Policy in June 2008. It found a large proportion of young aboriginal children continue to lack adequate housing, food security, clean water and access to services.

• The study also noted high numbers of aboriginal children in the child protection system, especially among children living on reserves and Inuit children. According to Jessica Ball, the study's author and a professor at the University of Victoria's School of Child and Youth Care, "the child welfare services that are funded by the department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada seem to have an unlimited amount of money to remove children from families and communities and almost no funding to support families to be able to keep their children in their home or to retrieve their children once they've been apprehended."
Medium: Radio
Program: Our Native Land
Broadcast Date: March 12, 1983
Guest(s): Issac Beaulieu, Ed Burnstick, Ross Charles, Clem Chartier, Wayne Christian, Bruce Crofts, Joseph Epaulia, Francis Fox, Len George, Ferdinand Guiboche, Patrick Johnston, Steven McComber, Dave Quarter, Jim Sinclair, Denny Williams
Host: Brian Maracle
Reporter: Peter McFarlane, Rob Sheppard
Duration: 49:50
This clip has been edited for copyright reasons.
Photo credit: Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh (2007)

Last updated: July 19, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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