Download Sacred Lives PDF

TitleSacred Lives
LanguageEnglish
File Size659.3 KB
Total Pages104
Document Text Contents
Page 1

N AT I O N A L A B O R I G I N A L C O N S U L TAT I O N P R O J E C T I

A S O N G F O R A C H I L D

There are some people

Who’ll say

Don’t cry, cause

That was yesterday

There are others

Who’ll question if it’s true

But, don’t worry darling

I believe in you

I know how the anger

Devours every part

Of your soul, your spirit

Your mind, your very heart

I know how you live with the abuse

Every single day

I know how hard it is

To just push the pain away

I feel it when you scream

Though you sit and stare

I feel the walls push me away

Though you long for me to be there

I don’t know what to do

What could I ever say

To erase the years gone by

And make it go away

Please darling

Before you turn to stone

Always, always remember

You are not alone

Cherry Kingsley

Page 2

For six months we were haunted. Therewere moments when we felt we had
lost all faith in humanity. It seemed there
was no kindness, no mercy, and no hope.
We would retire at the end of so many
long days and nights, lonely, missing
home, wishing we could ‘unknow’.

Just when we felt like we could bear no
more witness to the cruelties among us,
we would be so touched, so moved, and so
inspired by the youth. We found faith in
the beauty of the youth who talked to us.
Their courage, wisdom, clarity, strength,
integrity and spirit compelled us and cap-
tured us. Their truth and hope gave us
hope. We found solace in the beauty of our
land, and in the stories of our elders.

We only wish that we could capture all
of it for you the reader. We wish for you to
be moved — to be so moved that after
reading this you are in a different place —
that we all are.

We want to dedicate this report to all
of our children who still struggle, still
suffer. And to all of you who through your
suffering have found courage and vision to
try to make it different. Thank you for
talking to us, for sharing your stories,
for believing still that it can be different.
Your voices will be heard.

We would like to gratefully acknowl-
edge the commitment and dedication of
the Honourable Ethel Blondin-Andrew,
The Secretary of State for Children and
Youth, who realizes the importance of this

issue and provided funding for this project.
Without her support, The National
Aboriginal Project would never have seen
the light. She is a woman who not only
helped to ensure the voices of sexually
exploited Aboriginal children in Canada
could be heard but helped us to find our
voice as well.

We would also like to thank the
Department of Indian Affairs and
Northern Development for their financial
contribution.

Our gratitude to the Board of Directors
of Save the Children Canada for their fore-
sight in taking on this challenging project
and their confidence in our abilities to
create meaningful and lasting positive
social change for Aboriginal children
and youth.

Special thanks to the Aboriginal
Friendship Centres across Canada who
graciously provided venues for the youth
to gather.

We are also grateful to the National
Aboriginal Groups of Canada who took
time out of their busy schedules to address
the issue of commercial sexual exploita-
tion of Aboriginal children and youth.

Thanks to all of the community
organizations and service providers across
Canada who helped to make and sustain
youth connections. Their time and
energy provided an invaluable awareness
to this issue.

II S A C R E D L I V E S

Acknowledgements

Page 52

The format of the focus groups was a
talking circle, using an eagle feather to
recognize and honor speakers who held it.
Confidentiality and anonymity were pro-
tected during both the consultations and
transcription of the meetings, and only the
participants of the consultations and the
facilitators were present in the room during
the discussions. Generally, the focus groups
were 2–3 hours in length, and the average
attendance for each group was 8.5 youth.
The deliberate sizing of each focus group
allowed the youth to speak for as long as
they felt was necessary. Considerably more
females than males participated in the con-
sultations. This may reflect the higher per-
centage of females being sexually exploit-
ed. As well, it may indicate denial on the
part of males to identify with their own
exploitation.

Trials and Tribulations
of Roadwork

The administrative component —makingand coordinating contacts, soliciting and
requesting permission, as well as schedul-
ing the focus groups—proved to be chal-
lenging. In many communities, service
providers were unaware of other agencies
and contacts, and were unable to pool
resources. This proved to be particularly
difficult as most contacts were made long-
distance from Vancouver. Administrative
challenges can be daunting, even if you
live in the community. For the facilitators,
there was the additional problem of geog-
raphy. The distance between Vancouver
and other communities meant that there
were few networks to rely on. There were
instances of contacts being made but, on
arrival, people had forgotten about the
facilitators. A few communities and service
providers did not respond at all to commu-

nications. This begs the question: How is
society supposed to provide a seamless
continuum of care when it is fragmented
among the service providers themselves?

The difficulties described above were
not specific to any one community. There
were many Friendship Centers, service
providers and communities who went out
of their way to accommodate the project.
Their help was instrumental in making the
National Aboriginal Consultation Project a
success.

The veil of social silence which sur-
rounds commercial sexual exploitation of
children and youth influences the reactions
of many community members in Canada.
It is truly unfortunate that several commu-
nities flatly refused to participate in this
project without allowing the youth to
decide for themselves. This refusal further
marginalizes youth who suffer from sexual
exploitation, and ensures that their voices
will never be heard. How can we condone
this silence when there are young people
across Canada being bought and sold?

At times, the facilitators felt there was a
struggle with some agencies and communi-
ty members about the need to address the
issue at all. Having to ‘sell’ the project to
communities and service care providers
necessitated extensive media interviews and
press releases. While the media was respon-
sible for raising the profile of The National
Aboriginal Consultation Project, there was a
disturbing focus on the more sordid facts of
commercial sexual exploitation. Fascination
with details of extremism in sexuality,
youth, and violence seriously threatens
sexually exploited Aboriginal youth; their
suffering is used as titillation.

Community and social silence has a fur-
ther negative impact on experiential youth.
Many of the youths consulted were them-

46 S A C R E D L I V E S

Page 53

selves uncomfortable and/or unable to dis-
cuss their experiences. Their silence stems
from a position of multi-stigmatization.
Youth often feel the need to be a ‘protector’
of their community by denying the reality of
what exists in their communities and
extended families. No matter how bad it is
for them, they feel that disclosing their reali-
ty will only bring labeling and shame. They
all know it exists; they have been exposed to
it and they have been victims of it. Yet they
fear speaking up because of the dangers of
retaliation. While these consequences differ
between communities, they are almost
always negative: i.e. telling the authorities
will land you in foster care. Caught between
shame and negative consequences, youth do
not go to the very services that are suppos-
edly in place to help them.

There were real differences in commu-
nication between the urban and rural
locales of the focus groups. The price of
speaking up in smaller communities is
higher. This is compounded by the fact that
small-town commercial sexual exploitation
of children and youth can look very differ-
ent from that in larger communities. There
may be no visible face to the sex trade as
there is in cities, and youth who are exploit-
ed rarely receive money for their abuse;
more often they receive alcohol, drugs, or a
place to stay. There is an inherent under-
standing that in smaller communities,

The silence surrounding Aboriginal children
and youth also stems from the reality that
very few have ever been asked about it. The

modicum of safety in silence and/or denial
is compounded by Canadian society’s
ambivalence, a stance which obscures the
issue. There is much resistance to discussing
the issue; some communities and youth feel
that if they don’t have to talk about it, it
cannot affect them. This reticence translates
into a life-long pattern of denial with a
potentially lethal effect. Many Aboriginal
children and youths consulted for this proj-
ect have severe difficulties in expressing
themselves, due to either repression and/or
a lack of education. These limit their ability
to conceptualize solutions, and further rein-
forces a low sense of self-worth; this low
sense feeds into their silence. They feel
guilt, as though what has happened is their
fault. They feel that their lives are always
going to be this way.

This inability to realize that their lives can
be different leads to a profound sense of
apathy. These feelings of helplessness,
while powerful, were not the dominant
emotion in the focus groups. In most
communities, the youth felt quite strongly

N A T I O N A L A B O R I G I N A L C O N S U L TAT I O N P R O J E C T 47

“I don’t think there is any way to get
away from it; it [abuse and exploitation]

is still going to happen around you,

everywhere…”
Female youth, Goose Bay

“I don’t think that it [working in the
sex trade] could have been prevented

in any way…I was sexually abused

when I was five, and ever since I was

five it was the only way I ever knew…”
Female youth, Winnipeg“You are stuck in the reality of

abuse; there is nowhere to go so

you might as well accept it.”
Female youth, Winnipeg

Page 103

Ritch, Adele and Margaret Michaud. 1985.
Juvenile Prostitutes – A Profile: Report on
Juvenile Prostitution. Ottawa: Solicitor
General Canada.

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. 1996.
Gathering Strength, Volume 3, Report of the
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
Ottawa: Canadian Communications Group.

Rutman, D., H. Durie, A. Lundquist and N.
Jackson. 1999. Sexual Exploitation of Youth:
Literature Review and Consultations with
Aboriginal Agencies. Victoria: British
Columbia Ministry of Health.

Ryerse, Catherine. 1992. Thursday’s Child. Child
Poverty in Canada: A Review of the Effects of
Poverty on Children. Toronto: National Youth
in Care Network.

Samson, Colin, James Wilson and Jonathan
Mazower. 1999. Canada’s Tibet: The Killing of
the Innu. United Kingdom: Survival.

Save The Children Canada. 2000. Leaving the
Streets: Youth Forum to Address the
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
and Youth. Vancouver: Save the Children
Canada.

Ibid. 2000. Annual Report 1999/2000. Toronto:
Save the Children Canada.

Save the Children Sweden. 1998. Important
Steps in the Fight Against the Commercial
Sexual Exploitation of Children. Stockholm:
Save the Children Sweden.

Sprung, Cornelia. 1995. Assessing the Violence
Against Street Involved Women in the
Downtown Eastside/Strathcona Community.
Vancouver: The Ministry of Women’s
Equality.

Vancouver/Richmond Health Board. 1999.
Healing Ways: Aboriginal Health and Service
Review. Vancouver: Vancouver/Richmond
Health Board.

Warburton, Jane and Marian Teresa Camacho
de la Cruz. 1996. A Right to Happiness:
Approaches to The Prevention and Psycho-
Social Recovery of Child victims of
Commercial Sexual Exploitation. Geneva:
NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights
of the Child.

Werner-Leonard, Andrea and Frank Trovato.
1990. An Analysis of Native Mortality in
Canada. Calgary: Department of Sociology,
University of Alberta.

White, Lavina and Eva Jacobs. 1992. Liberating
Our Children: Liberating Our Nations. Report
of the Aboriginal Committee: Community
Panel Family and Children’s Services
Legislation Review in British Columbia.
Vancouver: Family and Children’s Services of
British Columbia.

World Conference on Religion and Peace. 1996.
Multireligious Response against the
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
New York: United Nations Plaza.

N A T I O N A L A B O R I G I N A L C O N S U L TAT I O N P R O J E C T 97

Page 104

98 S A C R E D L I V E S

Notes
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Similer Documents