Cash settlement no replacement for stolen time, says Sixties Scoop survivor born in N.W.T.
'I had no idea who I was until I was 18,' says Nina Segalowitz, who was born Anne-Marie Thrasher
Nina Segalowitz never met her birth mother, but she's visited her grave in Yellowknife.
Segalowitz was born Anne-Marie Thrasher, in Fort Smith, N.W.T., to Margaret Thrasher, her Inuvialuit birth mother.
She was taken from her family when she was nine months old and placed with a family in Montreal without, she says, her mother even knowing it was going to happen.
She was part of the Sixties Scoop, a decades long period when tens of thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families — often without consent — and placed with new families.
"It really saddens me that I was taken away from her and that I could never meet her," Segalowitz told CBC recently.
She was speaking after the federal government announced it had reached a financial settlement with the Indigenous survivors and families affected by the policy, which the federal government admitted "robbed" many of what should have been a proud Indigenous heritage.
"To the age of 18 I didn't know anything about my heritage or where I came from except that I was a dirty Eskimo, that I was a dirty Indian," Segalowitz said.
"I had no idea who I was until I was 18 and I began the journey of discovering and reconnecting with my community."
Spoken for twice
She was taken once without permission. Now, Segalowitz said she's angry to be taken up again in circumstances outside her control, in a cash settlement offered and accepted without what she would describe as proper consultation.
"I was very enraged and I was very upset with this announcement because I was not consulted, along with thousands of others who are now grouped under this settlement," Segalowitz said.
"No one consulted us about what we would want as compensation — I'm not talking about money either. We were not even consulted or asked what our needs would be."
Segalowitz said a unilateral cash settlement is not the way forward in terms of Canada's reconciliation with Indigenous people.
"It's not even a part of reconciliation if you don't consult the people — every single person who was affected by this. Reconciliation means going to each person and rectifying the situation and apologizing.
"It's not saying, 'here's $25,000 for all the pain and suffering,' based on the views of a certain amount of people."
The Sixties Scoop didn't only rob Segalowitz of her heritage, it reaches through and touches her children as well.
"Reconciliation is going to happen when I can have ties with my birth family, when my kids can know who they are, when they know their language and their traditions from the community that they are from.
"The time that they stole is the time they should be trying to give back to us with our families."
With files from Randy Henderson