Cover image for A matter of conscience / James Bartleman.
Title:
A matter of conscience / James Bartleman.
ISBN:
9781459741126
Publication Information:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada : Dundurn, [2018]

©2018
Physical Description:
269 pages ; 22 cm.
General Note:
"A J. Patrick Boyer book".
Abstract:
"In the summer of 1972, a float plane carrying a team of child welfare officials lands on a river flowing through the Yellow Dog Indian reserve. Their mission is to seize the twin babies of an Indigenous couple as part of an illegal scheme cooked up by the federal government to adopt out tens of thousands of Native children to white families. The baby girl, Brenda, is adopted and raised by a white family in Orillia. Meanwhile, that same summer, a baby boy named Greg is born to a white middle-class family. At the age of eighteen, Greg leaves home for the first time to earn money to help pay for his university expenses. He drinks heavily and becomes embroiled in the murder of a female student from a residential school. The destinies of Brenda and Greg intersect in this novel of passion confronting the murder and disappearance of Indigenous women and the infamous Sixties Scoop."-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

A novel of love and betrayal dealing with the biggest issues facing Canada's Indigenous peoples today. In the summer of 1972, a float plane carrying a team of child welfare officials lands on a river flowing through the Yellow Dog Indian reserve. Their mission is to seize the twin babies of an Indigenous couple as part of an illegal scheme cooked up by the federal government to adopt out tens of thousands of Native children to white families. The baby girl, Brenda, is adopted and raised by a white family in Orillia. Meanwhile, that same summer, a baby boy named Greg is born to a white middle-class family. At the age of eighteen, Greg leaves home for the first time to earn money to help pay for his university expenses. He drinks heavily and becomes embroiled in the murder of a female student from a residential school.The destinies of Brenda and Greg intersect in this novel of passion, confronting the murder and disappearance of Indigenous women and the infamous Sixties Scoop.


Author Notes

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.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bartleman (As Long as the River Flows), a former lieutenant governor of Ontario and a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, uses this novel to delve into the disturbing reasons why an estimated 4,000 indigenous women in Canada have been murdered or gone missing in recent decades. He opens the story in 1972 as Brenda, an infant born on a northern Ontario reserve, is-like thousands of other indigenous babies-taken away from parents who are deemed unfit by government officials and adopted by a white family. As an adult, she learns about her origins and struggles to find meaning and belonging. She meets and marries Greg, a man who is hiding a dark secret about his involvement in the murder of a young First Nations girl in northern Manitoba. Their marriage plays out the complications of their past: her lack of identity, his guilt and anger. The text can be didactic, but Bartleman clearly intends it to be a teaching tool; the second half of the book is resource documents about the "Sixties Scoop" of indigenous children taken from their own families and adopted by white ones, missing and murdered indigenous women, and Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Bartleman's strength as a writer is his compassion. He respects each of his characters and sets the stage for real-world discussions of Canada's past, present, and future. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1 The Baby Scoopers In the summer of 1972, a Government of Ontario float plane landed on the Albany River flowing through the Yellow Dog Indian Reserve in northwestern Ontario. Word quickly spread throughout the community: "The baby scoopers are back!" Fathers and mothers dropped what they were doing and hurried to pick up and hide their infants, but it was too late. The resident Indian agent, Steve Caruthers, had already skulked about and drawn up a list of babies to be removed without telling the parents. He was now driving his government van with Johnny Powell, a baby-faced RCMP constable in full and intimidating uniform and armed with a service revolver and truncheon, beside him on the passenger seat. Hilda White, a nurse wearing a well-pressed, prim, and starched white uniform, and Louise Bacon, a bewildered social worker from the Children's Aid Society headquarters in Toronto, sat behind them on the second row. The seats on the third row had been removed, and the space was occupied by five bassinets equipped with sheets and blankets. At the first cabin, the home of Maria and Isaac Makwa, Steve pushed open the door without knocking and went in, beckoning the others to follow. A young couple, no more than sixteen years old, were eating their breakfast, and their six-month-old twin babies were in cradleboards beside them. "We've come for your children," Steve announced. Pointing to Johnny, who reacted by lowering his head and shifting his weight from one foot to the other, he added, "This officer of the law will arrest you if you make any trouble." Turning to Hilda and Louise, who glanced at each other uneasily, he said, "These two ladies are from the Children's Aid Society and will take the babies to Toronto. Is everything clear so far?" The Makwas said nothing. They had spent most of their lives in a residential school where they had been taught to obey the edicts of white teachers and officials without question under penalty of receiving a sharp slap across the face. Steve carefully extracted a prepared statement from his briefcase and read it slowly, enunciating each word with careful precision. "It is my duty to inform you, Maria Makwa, and you, Isaac Makwa, that you were seen drinking alcoholic beverages in the recent past by reliable persons, who shall remain unidentified, at the home of a well-known bootlegger, leaving your children unattended, an act of gross neglect. On that basis, and since the neglect of children is not tolerated in Canada, I hereby declare you to be unfit parents. Your children will be immediately removed from your care and transferred to the care of the Ontario welfare authorities to be put up for adoption to couples in Canada or elsewhere who will give them the love and protection they need. Death certificates will be issued, wiping out and destroying any record of their Indian heritage, and they will receive new white identities. The adoptive parents will not be told the origins of the children, and the children will never know the names of the biological parents. To protect the children, files relating to the case will be sealed, you will never be told where the children will be placed, and you will never see them again. This decision is final and you have no recourse under the law." The Makwas stared at the floor and remained silent as Hilda and Louise moved in, unfastened the straps holding their babies in place in their cradleboards, pulled their infants free, wrapped them in government-issue blankets, and hurried outside. Steve and Johnny followed closely behind, providing cover to the women and the stolen babies as if they were bank robbers escaping the scene of a crime. The raiding party moved on to the other designated cabins and followed the same routine until the last of the morning's quota was filled. After looking around to see if anyone was coming to stop them, Steve drove his van back to the river where the pilot was keeping the plane's motor turning over slowly, waiting for his passengers and a fast getaway. As Hilda and Louise carried the babies from the van, Steve told them to hurry -- a grieving mother or father, with a grandfather and grandmother in tow, might still come sobbing to reclaim their offspring, and the situation would become messy. Excerpted from A Matter of Conscience by James Bartleman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

About this Bookp. 9
Prefacep. 11
Part I Brenda: 1972-1990p. 15
1 The Baby Scoopersp. 17
2 Visions of Apocalypsep. 23
3 The McGregorsp. 28
Part 2 Greg: 1972-I99Op. 35
4 The Calvin Minep. 37
5 In the Wrong Placep. 50
6 The Search for Redemptionp. 60
Part 3 Brenda and Greg: 1995-1996p. 67
7 The Dating Sitep. 69
8 Homecomingp. 78
9 Raven's Diaryp. 91
10 Maria's Letterp. 97
Part 4 Discreditable Conduct: 1996-2017p. 99
11 The Trade Commissionerp. 101
12 Return to Cubap. 115
Epiloguep. 125
Recommended Background Readingsp. 131
1 The Sixties Scoopp. 133
2 Stolen Sistersp. 160
3 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996)p. 198
4 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report (2015)p. 205
5 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Recommendations (2015)p. 235
Acknowledgementsp. 271