Efforts in Regina to help Aboriginal families deal with generations of absent fathers are featured in a new documentary, produced by CBC, that will be shown this week.
Blind Spot, which is set to air Saturday night, takes an intimate look at several people who are working to break a cycle of fatherless families that has spanned generations. According to research gathered for the documentary, produced by CBC News reporter Geoff Leo, it is estimated that within ten years, almost half of aboriginal youngsters will be raised without their fathers.
'I'm gonna prove all you guys wrong.'—Tyson Kakakaway
One of the people featured in the program is Tyson Kakakaway, who says he is looking forward to being a positive figure in his child's life.
Tyson, 16, said he plans to be with his partner when their child is born.
"A lot of people said that I was gonna probably end up like my dad, eh? Just trying to get drunk and everything," Tyson said. "I'm gonna prove all you guys wrong. You guys are gonna see."
Tyson and Kelsey Geddes, 15, have dropped out of high school and are unemployed.
However, Kakakaway has found support in a father's group in north central Regina.
Rena Kim runs the program, called Focus on Fathers, at the Four Directions Health Clinic.
Kim said Kakakaway's situation is familiar.
"It was the dads saying, for the most part, 'I never had a dad,'" she explained. "'I grew up with my mom or my grandma or someone. And if I would have had a dad in my life, would it have made a difference.' And we explore those things in the group."
The documentary also examines new research by a psychology professor at the University of Victoria who learned many aboriginal fathers feel completely lost in the role of parenting.
"Fathers would say when they play with their child they feel this tremendous sadness because they never ever had a chance to play themselves," Jessica Ball said. "And it just evokes feelings of longing and yearning in the child part of them that never really got nurtured."
Ball said the challenge then becomes dealing with emotions of a lost childhood as one is faced with the responsibility of a parent.
"That's an amazing feat," she said, "to pull that out of oneself. Out of thin air."
Effect of residential schools
The problem is also looked at from a historical context, including the effect on families of the Indian residential school system.
"It took seven generations to just about destroy aboriginal families," Ball said. "And it's going to take seven generations to turn it around. But so many fathers in the study said they think and they hope and they feel that this might be the turnaround generation."
Leo's documentary airs across the country on CBC News Network's The Passionate Eye on Saturday.
The broadcast time in Saskatchewan is 9 p.m. CST.
A free public screening is also set for Thursday, Jan. 12, at 6 p.m., at the Albert Scott Community Centre in Regina.