Keeseekoose First Nation, Saskatchewan, 64
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.
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