Listening – Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo

Samsung phone with white headphone, Google Play image on screen

Earlier in March season two of the CBC Missing & Murdered podcast launched.  Written and hosted by journalist Connie Walker, Missing & Murdered is an investigative style podcast focused on the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Season one, which aired in 2016, focused on the life and death of Alberta Williams, who was murdered in 1898.  If you haven’t listened to the first season I highly recommend it.  It is hard to listen to at times, but it speaks important truths about MMIWG2S in Canada and the systemic barriers faced by Indigenous communities.

Season two, which has one episode left to air, focuses on the life and death of Cleopatra Semaganis Nicotine, known as Cleo.  Cleo was adopted into the United States in the 1970s as part of Saskatchewan’s Adopt Indian Métis Program (AIM) and the sixties scoop.  Her biological family was told Cleo died as a teenager but lacked any context of her life post-adoption or details about her death.  The podcast follows the family’s search for answers.

Similar to season one of Missing & Murdered, season two does an excellent job of contextualizing this one family’s loss. A number of the episodes include a discussion of the long term impacts of the sixties scoop, the racist advertising of the AIM program, and the impact of intergenerational residential trauma on family life.

I was particularly impressed with how much effort went into searching microfilm records and archival records to provide context to the history of the AIM program and the residential school experience of Cleo’s mother. This podcast provides a good entry point for folks looking to learn more about the sixties scoop and colonialism. It is an emotional and important listen that is well worth the time.

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