Beyond survivingAfter being part of the Sixties Scoop, Dan Quevillon shares his story of struggle, hope and healing
Northern News Services
Thursday, July 2, 2015
LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMSPON
"(I) danced my shoes off. I can really see the difference in me; it's such a good feeling."
Dan Quevillon in his natural habitat - the great outdoors. Decades after being picked up as part of the federal government's Sixties Scoop, Quevillon is basking in the beauty of life and is currently the regional superintendent for the Department of Transportation in Fort Simpson. - April Hudson/NNSL photo
It was June 12, 2004, and Dan Quevillon was on Day 31 of being sober.
Quevillon had checked himself into treatment one month earlier at the St. Paul Treatment Centre in Cardston, Alta. He had been an alcoholic since the age of 12.
For decades, ever since being caught up in the federal government's Sixties Scoop - removing mass numbers of aboriginal children from their homes into the welfare system - at the age of three, he had just been surviving. It was in that treatment centre that Quevillon began living again.
"My Creator gave me, at a very young age, love, kindness and courage in order to get to where I am today. I was made to be a teacher of how beautiful life is," Quevillon said.
"There is a beautiful light out there, and what we forget to see is that light is us."
Quevillon remembers being taken from his birth parents. After some time in an orphanage, he was adopted by Blanche and Conrad Quevillon and began a new life with his new white family.
But despite the love of his new parents, Quevillon was still just surviving. He survived abuse and discrimination early on, and waited for his birth mom every night from the age of five to the age of 12.
"Being taken away and put in an orphanage by Children's Aid until you find a place is actually pretty difficult and stressful, to say the least," Quevillon said.
"There are very few people who understand that the moment a child begins surviving, the world has stopped and it's a day at a time. You become very individualistic."
When he was 12, Quevillon found his best friend - alcohol. His alcoholism persisted into adulthood and into a career with the RCMP, where he served for eight years.
"What I found so hard about being a police officer was trying to live in a world where I wanted to help people and then having to deal with (my addiction). It was very difficult," he said.
"I managed to do it for a period but after a while I said, 'No - I can't do this any more. I have to change jobs.' And I did."
It was March 23, 2004 when everything changed. A friend in Fort Liard told him there was help for him. Driving down the highway, praying, Quevillon felt something come over him.
"I had finally come to realize I had absolutely no control over anything any more," he said.
Today, as the regional superintendent for the Department of Transportation in Fort Simpson, Quevillon describes himself as "just Dan." He finds comfort in nature and the wounds of his childhood have healed.
For him, truth and reconciliation began internally.
"Anybody can apologize for something. But if you haven't gone through the process of healing yourself, it's pretty hard to forgive somebody," he said.
"I would have loved to have been raised by my family. Life brings a whole bunch of uncertain things, regardless of whether you're raised in a family here or there; we live with the outcome.
"For me, as a Sixties Scoop child, because of where I'm at, my past built who I am today. All those hardships. I'm grateful to be where I'm at and to have been adopted by that beautiful white family because I forgave everyone."
Treatment helped him to discover his place in life, teaching others through his own experiences. It also helped him realize he is not alone - and that's the message he wants to pass on to others wounded by the historic abuses of First Nations people.
"We go through these beautiful lessons. And we don't share other people's stories any more; we share our own. That's why we become teachers. The Sixties Scoop provided me an opportunity to become who I am today: very powerful. And that's where we can teach all these people who are still stuck with the pain from residential schools, that we can learn from that and we can actually deal with it at our own pace," he said.
"That's the story I share with everybody. Nobody walks behind us; nobody walks in front of us. We all walk side by side."