A Matter of Conscience: A novel on the Sixties Scoop and Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women

A Matter of Conscience: A novel on the Sixties Scoop and Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women

Posted on June 5 by James Bartleman in Fiction, Recent Releases
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Pinterest

The Indigenous peoples of Canada can be forgiven for believing that successive governments over the 150 years and more since Confederation were following a master plan devised by an evil genius to eliminate them once and for all through drastic measures of assimilation. And, of all the cruel steps taken to accomplish this goal, the most vicious was the relentless attack on their children, taking them away from their homes on reserves across the nation to residential schools, little better than reformatories, to forget their languages and families. This led to the shattering of family structures as generation after generation of half-educated broken youth returned to their homes, all too often to neglect and brutalize their own families as they had been neglected and brutalized in these so-called schools.

 

Citing the dysfunction it had inflicted on the family structures it had caused, the government doubled down, sending provincial child welfare officials, ignorant of Indigenous culture and language, to the reserves to seize tens of thousands of a new generation of babies in the so-called Sixties Scoop. This time the goal was to destroy the links between the children and their families and communities by adopting them out to white families, or lodging them in temporary shelters until they drifted off to live on the streets.

 

When these misguided initiatives failed, the government walked away from the problems it had created, leaving Indigenous family structures and communities in ruins. Indigenous husbands, crazed by the depths to which their people had fallen, beat and killed their wives, while the dregs of white male society preyed on Indigenous women and girls in their turn. Growing numbers of bodies of Indigenous women began to turn up on the sides of lonely highways, in the back alleys of the big cities, and even on a pig farm. Growing numbers were reported missing by their families. But the white authorities looked the other way.

 

A Matter of Conscience takes place against the background of these catastrophic developments. It is a work of fiction firmly anchored in facts with an extensive section of key background documents such as the Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the use of those who may wish to dig deeper into the issues.

James Bartleman

Posted by KathrynB on December 6, 2014
James Bartleman photo

James Bartleman

James Bartleman is the former lieutenant governor of Ontario and the bestselling author of the novels As Long as the Rivers Flow and The Redemption of Oscar Wolf. A member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, he is also a retired ambassador, an officer of the Order of Canada, and winner of the Aboriginal Achievement Award. He lives in Perth, Ontario.