Sisters in Esgenoopetitj talk about their escape from the Sixties Scoop

Carolyn Bartibogue stands over her sink in Esgenoopetitj and thinks back to when she was taken from her parents during the Sixties Scoop – something she says she has never fully recovered from.

“I feel like why I look so, why I look so sad, my heart is broken,” she says.

Bartibogue was seven years old when she and her sisters were taken from their mother.

They talk about that day – as though it happened yesterday.

“I remember being under the bed and when they moved the bed this way, we kind of on rolled that side back and forth, back and forth,” says Caroline. “And when they couldn’t get us one way, they scooped off the mattress and we were like clinging on to the railings on the old spring bed.”

(Carolyn, left, and Joanne Bartibogue. Photo: Angel Moore/APTN)

Her sister Jeannie weighs in on the story.

“We were kicking and screaming and crying and they put us in the back of a police car,” she says.

And Joanne says the police were called.

“Out of the blue the RCMP came in and just took us,” she says.

“Took us and they didn’t even tell my mother where they were taking us.”

They were taken to live with four adults.

They say they were abused during their stay – and lost their cultural identity.

“We couldn’t speak our language, and when we sat down to eat, we had to say it in French,” says Jeannie. “And if we didn’t say it right we wouldn’t eat.

“I remember my sister finally saying it right and when she ate, she choked.”

It wasn’t much better at school.

“The teacher asked me what’s your name? I told her dirty pig,” says Joanne. “And she said no you’re not, she said your name is Joanne, so it was like that.”

The house they were sent to was just outside their community, Esgenoopetitj.

A band member was hunting and saw the sisters in the yard and told their mother.

She went to get her kids back.

And had a plan to trick the foster parent.

“She had an envelope and she told us in Mi’kmaw to get into the car, get in the truck so we all jumped on,” says Joanne. “And she then she just passed and told him she want custody of her kids back and years later, my mother said there was nothing in that envelope.”

Their mother took them to Toronto to escape – so they couldn’t be found.

They didn’t return until years later.

(“We were kicking and screaming and crying,” says Jeannie Bartibogue when police took the sisters from their mother. Photo: Angel Moore/APTN)

The sisters realize the Sixties Scoop is another part of many past traumas.

“I worked as a case manager for residential school in my community and having to listen to the experiences of residential school was similar to mine,” says Jeannie.

The sisters say the Sixties Scoop settlement is just one step in the healing process.

And it will be a long road for the entire community.

“Making sure that the supports there for the victims for the folks that had to leave the communities and live with another culture,” says Joanne.

The deadline to file a claim is at the end of August.

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