Keeseekoose First Na­tion, Saskatchewan, 64

Canadian Geographic - - THE SURVIVORS CIRCLE -

T THE BE­GIN­NING of my life was re­ally won­der­ful, un­til the day the po­lice knocked on the door and took us away. There were 15 chil­dren in my fam­ily. My mom and all my sib­lings were sent to res­i­den­tial schools. I was five or six when I was taken to Gor­don’s School in Pun­nichy, Saskatchewan, where I stayed for seven years, and then to St. Phillip’s in Kam­sack for an­other four. I was sex­u­ally abused and phys­i­cally abused for all those years. I never knew who I was or where I came from. I went into al­co­hol. I went into drugs. I tried to com­mit sui­cide. Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion starts with the in­di­vid­ual. I had to rec­on­cile with my­self. I had to for­give my­self. I had pro­fes­sional help. Peo­ple make choices. The choice I made was to go for­ward. I got mar­ried when I was 21 and have five beau­ti­ful daugh­ters, mar­ried to won­der­ful men. I have 15 grand­chil­dren and five great-grand­chil­dren. My fam­ily is in­tact. We all meet four times a year. It’s one of the rules of the fam­ily. In spring when the leaves come out, in fall when the leaves go, at Christ­mas and in sum­mer for the sun dance. When there’s a rift in the fam­ily, we call a meet­ing. My daugh­ters are still an­gry. They say: “Why did they do that to Dad?” Truth-telling, that’s the big­gest thing in my life. And our tra­di­tional ways, our cer­e­monies, our cus­toms. With­out them, I wouldn’t be sit­ting here.

I never knew who I was or where I came from. I went into al­co­hol. I went into drugs. I tried to com­mit sui­cide.

Tltlti­h­fee bwaegsin­re­nai nyg of my wl­wliofned­wearf­surle,au n yt il e dwd­woanyd e re­fupl, o luincet kd­kdanyo ck eed p oonli c e e d r akakn­ndockt e dk ouns a weady . Tatahnedr e t w ekre u1s5 acwhai­lyd. ren ititnhem­rey­we­fraem15il­cyh.imldyr en mimi­nom­myan­fad­mai ly m.myy smsmi­bom­li­nagns­d­wear e smenyt to rsr­sieb­sil­di­en­ngt­si­awler­sechse n lts . t oi wr­wre­as­sid­fein­ve­tioarl ssicxh wh lesn. II wwwwaaaassss tft­faiv­keeonr tsoi x when I Gwg­waos­rd­taonk’esn S tcoh l in Pgpguon­rd­noinc’hsys, ch Spspausnknaitc­ch­hyew, an, where Isisas­t­sakyaet­d­ch­fe­owrasne, Saskatchewan, SIS v ewnh ere yiyiesa­tarsy,eadn years, s yi, i, pa’ns pead’ns and fdion fdo din r seen­vent to‘o St. Pypye­hair ehsa­tiar en to Kp­kphaimispa’csk i nfo r ano er

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