Hi Book Lovers!
I was lucky enough to receive this book on Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review. Let’s talk about this emotional roller-coaster ride.
Ohpikiihaakan-ohpihmeh (Raised Somewhere Else)
By: Colleen Cardinal
Pages: Unknown (E-Book / no pages listed)
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Format: E-Book on Kindle
“What they didn’t see was the pain, trauma and suffering that we endured living under that roof with those people.” – Colleen Cardinal
It’s been a few days since I finished Colleen’s story. I had a lot to think about. Colleen, an Indigenous woman, grew up in the Sixties Scoop – a practice that occurred primarily in Canada where Indigenous children were taken from their families and sent to foster homes or adopted (usually by white families) in the late 1950s on. Her story is one of growing up in a family different from her own and how it snowballed into the life she created for several decades. Colleen dealt with abuses abound including mental, emotional, physical, and even sexual. Trauma can alter people in vastly different ways and this story was a look at how Colleen coped through her life (very rough, detailed patches and all) and found her way back to herself and to the people and culture she was taken from years ago.
Colleen told this story as if she were sitting across from me speaking her truths. Honestly, there were a few instances I looked up almost expecting someone to be there telling me what her words were telling me about her life. What also impressed me is how she has owned up to so many things about her past that even she admitted aren’t easy to do for many people. In that, I applauded her greatly.
“I am not perfect by any means and have hurt and been violent to other people in my past.” – Colleen Cardinal
“Like a familiar piece of luggage, I have dragged my abuse right along with me, and in many ways have taken it out on my children.” – Colleen Cardinal
Perhaps wisdom does come with age and watching Colleen’s story unravel and lead her to a place of self-discovery was inspiring, hopeful, and educational (the Sixties Scoop was yet another piece of Indigenous culture I didn’t know existed beforehand). Additionally, her extreme love for her children was something to be cherished as I read. Yes, she has made many errors in her life (which of us haven’t?), and sometimes her own desires sadly did come before her children’s desires. However, she credits them for her ability to grow and change constantly and I appreciate that as I never had a mother who loved me as much as she loves her children.
The downside to her story, for me, was certain parts felt slightly repetitive. It wasn’t necessarily overdone to a point I was irritated or annoyed, however, it did detract from the way her story unraveled when we would see her travel back a moment to re-live something already discussed. I think why this was hard for me is that Colleen’s story has a lot of emotional and rough spots in it – things I have never experienced and things I wish no one would ever have to experience. Rehashing a section that I already felt sad about was difficult the first time and sometimes I didn’t want to stomach things a second time.
This book was neither easy to read nor bursting with warm, fuzzy feelings. I cannot relate to her on many levels, yet that is why I loved her story so deeply. I have been in awe of Native American and Indigenous culture since I was around five or six and have felt that so many of their stories have been skipped over or not given a platform or opportunity to reach as many people as they should. What has happened to their lifestyles and culture has unsettled me for decades and in listening to Colleen’s story I felt proud for her and her people to finally raise a voice and put a foot down to accepting what they are told to accept. While many voices are still not heard, this story was fascinating, saddening, and hopeful. I hope it allows others like her to find their way back to their true selves and allow the rest of us to see what has happened to so many Indigenous people. Those actions cannot be taken back – history is history. Yet there is always time to change the future to be better and brighter for future generations that have been previously been wronged for so long.
“There are things you just keep on doing no matter what. You drag your ass out of bed or off the couch and you keep going because you have to, because no one is going to do it for you.” – Colleen Cardinal
This is just one of many stories that should be read by many to help further the knowledge of what has happened under the rug to so many for years upon years. Don’t assume you know the full story unless you’ve truly looked at every angle. I highly recommend reading this story for anyone interested in learning more about the Sixties Scoop and understanding what’s really happening under the stereotypes put on many Indigenous by those who do not truly understand.