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Presentor: Colleen Hele-Cardinal/ sîpihkopiyesiw
Colleen Cardinal was just a baby when she was forcibly removed from the care of her mother, a residential school survivor, and adopted to Sault Ste.Marie ON where she was raised, along with her two blood sisters, by a white family . She tells her poignant story of abuse and victimization. Dealing with the generational trauma and confusion about her place in the world left Colleen in a dark place but she became determined that this would not be the sum, not only of her story but the stories of so many victims of the Indigenous Survivors of Canada’s Child Welfare System. She will share with you how that determination led her to her role today, bringing survivors together into a new community , for healing, celebrating and activism. Her story is at turns heart breaking and joyously inspiring. A true tribute to the triumph of the human spirit.
sîpihkopiyesiw/Colleen Hele- Cardinal is nehiyaw iskwew (Plains Cree) from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, AB. She is a community organizer, social justice advocate, student, author and kokum. Her work includes organizing four national 60s scoop gatherings in Ontario, raising awareness, internationally, of the 60's scoop and the impacts of the displacement and loss of identity which survivors have experienced. Colleen also speaks publicly and candidly about MMIW2SG, drawing critical connections between colonial child welfare removal policies and her lived experiences and those of women in her family. Colleen continues to volunteer with several initiatives, including Families of Sisters in Spirit, Blackbird Medicines and the Nobel Women’s Initiative Sister to Sister Mentorship program to address gender-based violence, while giving context on the making of Canada, treaty relationships and the dehumanization of Indigenous people through policy and media. She is the author of the Ohpikiihaakan-ohpihmeh (Raised Somewhere Else): A 60s Scoop Adoptee’s Story of Coming Home and is spear-heading the GIS mapping initiative Mapping the 60s Scoop Diaspora. This diverse work resulted in being awarded the Ontario Premiers Award for Outstanding Community Service. Currently Colleen is a crisis counsellor at the Hope for Wellness Crisis Line and a Criminology student at Carleton University
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