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Sixties Scoop survivors prepare for Sask. premier’s apology

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As Saskatchewan Sixties Scoop survivors prepare for Premier Scott Moe to deliver an apology, those that helped survivors share their stories are split on what it means.

On Monday morning at the legislature in Regina, Moe will make a long promised apology for the government’s role in separating Indigenous children from their culture, language, families and identity. It is an apology Rod Belanger is not ready to accept.

« I’m not in favour of the apology at this time. I’m doing this because I’m wanting our people to get back a part of their voice, » Belanger said.

In the fall, the province partnered with the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Saskatchewan (SSISS) to hold sharing circles. The SSISS made a number of recommendations to the province and within weeks the province announced it would deliver the apology.

The Sixties Scoop saw saw tens of thousands of Indigenous children across Canada taken from their families and adopted out across the country and the world, mostly to white families, between the 1960s and the 1980s.

Belanger, 57, a member of the SSISS, was apprehended at around age 3. He was fostered by a white family, and said he experienced physical abuse and ended up in a group home at age 12.

Belanger met his birth mother and sister when they showed up at a neighbourhood pool in Regina.

« I was a little bit shocked seeing my mother and sister standing before me, » Belanger said.

He eventually met his father and other relatives.

« There is a honeymoon stage when we are reunited with our families and then we find out we’re totally different people. »

He said there are some fairytale endings for survivors who reunite with their birth families but this is not the norm.

Belanger said his difficult upbringing led him to crime and incarceration. He said he was saved when he got involved in traditional dance.

Apology almost split survivor group

Belanger said the SSISS leadership almost split during the course of eight sharing circles for survivors that were held across Saskatchewan.

« Half of us felt they were going to get something out of the apology and half of us felt ‘this is a bunch of bulllshit,' » he said.

« The apology is a huge controversy right now. »

He said the government needs more time to realize what has happened and understand what it is apologizing for.

Belanger will dance at Monday’s apology even though he said he is not in favour. (Submitted to CBC)

Hearing the apology ‘not easy,’ says survivor

Melissa Parkyn considers herself lucky compared to other Sixties Scoop survivors.

« I’ve heard lots of stories and I was lucky to grow up in a good home, but just the only thing was losing my culture and my language and that identity loss. It took a lot of work for me to work on myself and who I was, » said Parkyn, co-chair of the SSISS.

Parkyn was born in North Battleford, one of 14 kids to a single mother. She was adopted out as part of the Sixties Scoop at six months and grew up in Alberta. She was raised by a white family. Parkyn found her birth family when she was 18.

« I didn’t know I was Cree. I didn’t know my First Nations background, my culture, my language, » said Parkyn.

She said she knows hearing the apology « is not going to be easy. »

Melissa Parkyn was adopted at six months to a white family. She reunited with her birth family after graduating high school. (Submitted by Melissa Parkyn)

Parkyn said many survivors could not attend the sharing circles; others struggled to tell their painful story.

« There were some that couldn’t even walk through the door. They felt it was so hard to tell their stories. They just handed over a letter; that’s how hard it was to walk inside and tell their story, »

She said others chose not to attend and some don’t want the apology at all.

« There are still lots of Sixties Scoop survivors that never came home. And if they did find their way home, they didn’t have a chance to meet their family or they’re still looking. It’s really hard for them to bring up their stories because they’re so tragic, and the abuse was not good at all. »

Both Parkyn and Belanger want the province’s actions to extend past the formal apology. Their recommendations include hosting more sharing circles, adding the Sixties Scoop to school curriculum and releasing apprehension records.

Saskatchewan will be the third province to issue an apology, following Manitoba and Alberta. In May, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley delivered her apology. She closed by saying sorry in seven Indigenous languages. 

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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