I am so grateful to be part of a powerful Circle and network with such encouraging and inspiring Board Members, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Survivors, and Warriors who are not only making a difference within our Sixties Scoop work, but who make a difference within our communities by accompanying Sixties Scoop Survivors, their Families, and Descendants along their healing journey. This is the trueSpirit of practicing these Teachings in all areas of our lives. While I may not see everyone often during our global pandemic, and through these unprecedented times, do know that I gather inspiration, light, and abundance from your Teachings,Lived Experiences, and Hope - one day at a time and in the moment. And I am eternally grateful for this and to you♡
During this Solstice and Gift Giving Season and as a Sixties Scoop Warrior, I want to share a message about the Gifts of the Red Road, Recovery and Healing.
I came from a place that really had no family, extended family, or community connections and, I was placed in and out of foster homes while enduring several traumas in my first fourteen years of life.
After several years of losses, grief, trauma, and abuse, I did not know how to respond to all this chaos in my young life. Thus, and needless to say, I had my first attempt on my young life at the age of nine and a half. At almost ten years old, I was disappointed with myself that I was still alive. And a couple of years later, this started the journey of self-destruction, drinking to die, more self-destruction, and suicide attempts for the next ten years. I must admit, the holiday seasons were extremely tough, especially the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons that emphasized family get-togethers and connecting with loved ones. To compound everything, I dropped out of high school, began living on my own at the age of fifteen, and took a part-time job to support myself and keep a roof over my head. When you come from the foster care system, there is no family to back you up or any soft spot to land. In my young mind, I knew that if I didn't put a roof over my head, no one will! Undoubtedly, the foster care system is a great boot camp for becoming homeless.
To compound everything, in addition to living on my own and being extremely self-destructive and trying to make sense of everything I went through, I had a severe disability from the childhood traumas I experienced. This disability led to six grand mal seizures a day requiring that I take numerous medications.
So, thereI was – on all the margins of society, former foster child, with a number of medical labels that made it impossible to succeed even if I wanted to.And while workplaces said, "oh no problem, we want you to work with us."But as soon as I had a seizure, I was often fired. At the end of the day, this led me to believe that I had no worth, no self-esteem, or purpose which led to further self-destruction and drinking. It was a vicious cycle, and yes, I did have some part in that cycle of self-destruction and trying to remove myself from this physical life.
At the age of twenty-one, feeling like a hundred and twenty-one, I was invited to take a life skills program. And, I certainly had no skills, let alone a life! It was early in this program that one morning when we were doing our round table of check-ins; a woman listened intently to my story. At coffee, she quietly and kindly disclosed a bit of her story and asked me if I ever considered that I have a drinking and living problem. Well, I had many problems, but I certainly did not consider drinking one of them, lol! Anyway, from that point on, this woman directed me to several Circles and, I'm convinced that that the seed ofHope, as well as a Divine Intervention, took place for me in those early weeks of attending Circles. And within those early months of attending Circles, learning to trust in the process, and learning to trust others who believed in me I had two Miracles occur. One was the Gift of the Red Road and Recovery –one day at a time and, and the other was the Gift of having two major surgeries, which granted me my Physical Health back.
So there I was, transforming from a young person who was extremely self-destructive at the core, suicidal, drinking to die, and having six grand mal seizures a day to experiencing recovery. Many Teachings and a new lease on life without seizure medication or any seizures at all is a gift I believe the Creator and Universe granted me; unmerited gifts (despite myself). But I learned very early in my journey that while Creator's gifts to us are the Red Road, Recovery and Healing, what we do with it is our gift back.
Left to my own devices and as Elders articulate, I would have led a life into jails (or as I like to say, in the bars or behind bars), in institutions, and certainly courting death - if not at my own hands, at the hands of others. Given that I fit the demographic profile of any young girl who may have gone missing and/or murdered.
A real Turning Point came when one Elder mentioned to me that while it may not feel like it at the time, our experiences become our greatest assets and gifts.
With a new lease on life, beginning to experience and receive hope, and beginning to move into action – I was making my journey one step at a time starting with upgrading to complete my grade twelve. And then, another Elder encouraged me to enroll inThe Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work Program. While I still had the voice of self-doubt in the back of my mind, I followed through with a blind faith and completed my application for university. And with the Grace of our Creator, I was accepted into university.
Anyone who has attended University knows the gifts of Education. For me, education was not simply a degree or something to hang on my wall. It was an inner journey that allowed me to research and search out my roots, my Story and, heal from the experiences of the child welfare system. Truly, this is where I began to see and witness where our lived experiences, losses and traumas turn into our greatest assets and gifts.
After I completed my Bachelor’s degree, the same Elder gently encouraged me to apply for my Master’s degree. Again, still with a nagging voice of self-doubt in the back of my mind, I applied and was accepted to do my Master’s degree.
Yet, I need to remind myself that any success in my education journey was contingent upon my spiritual condition, being a part of amazing Circles, and continuing a conscious contact with a Creator. Belonging to many Circles and giving back unconditionally what was so freely given to me.
Thus, putting First Things First allowed me to receive the courage and strength I needed to walk through the many doors that were opening for me.
While completing my Master's degree, my colleagues and many others had encouraged me to apply to do my Doctorate of Philosophy (of course at that time, Ph.D. stood for "Poor Hungry Drunk"). I was doing my studies living off day-old donuts, residing in Toronto and paying taxes and tuition on a student budget -lol! My colleagues and others were certain that I had a story that hadn't yet been told, especially in relation to the child welfare system.
Today, this child welfare era is known as the Sixties Scoop.
As we learned within our Circles, I also learned that with growing awareness of theSixties Scoop, I was no longer alone and silenced with my Story. Thousands of other Indigenous and Métis Children also had these lived experiences and had their own stories.
Today, Ido what these Circles have taught: that the Creator has a Plan and LargerVision for us and that as we begin to carry our Teachings, Lived Experiences, andHope into all areas of our life, we can begin to be an example of the encouragement and inspiration that the Ancestors and Elders who have gone before us has instilled in us.
I am convinced that at this juncture, you may be asking yourself why is she sharing this Story? It is so that I can remind myself what it used to be like, where I came from, the humble beginnings I had, and remind myself of when I had given up on myself and of all hope; the self-destructiveness and attempts on my young life. The experiences that taught me to never become complacent. Importantly, I share this Story about the Gifts of the Red Road, Recovery and Healing. The many other Miracles bestowed upon us remind me of how extremely grateful I am for those that came before us, for the amazing Ancestors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers and Sixties Scoop Survivors/Warriors within our Circles and communities. I am also grateful for those yet to come in to our Circles and into a new way of life. In many ways, being a SixtiesScoop Warrior on a strong Recovery and Healing journey has revealed the most valuableTeaching: that Thanksgiving and Christmas as we understand Christmas - is everyday.
I share my Story not because I think it is important but to articulate my unwavering gratitude and appreciation for our Ancestors, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers that have come before us.
I truly and humbly commemorate and honor those who came before us.But for the Grace of our Creator, there go I ... one day at a time and one step at a time♡
Dr. Jacqueline Marie Maurice
Chief Executive Officer
Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation
December 21st, 2021