Failed Hope: The Story of the Lost Peace (Stories of Canada)

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We had roast moose meat and gravy and potatoes. What about your children? Have you talked to them about Residential School? Like I say, after I got married I guess I was on a roller coaster. I met this wonderful man and my life is going to be good and beautiful, so I kind of shut off all that Residential School experience stuff.

Once I got into the workforce working with other people I was so busy helping other people and doing things I wanted to do, I just never really had time to deal with my own residential experience. When the Residential School issues started to come out, even in the church, because I was a First Nations person I would be the one asked to speak to that, you know. We just nominated an Aboriginal Bishop to oversee all the Native churches across Canada.

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Pretty soon you kind of get dragged into it with your own stuff and start to trigger some memories and some traumas. He said that it could be. With my children, you know, you pass on what you learn. You heard the story today Jackie told the story about the generations of women cooking chicken who would cut the legs and arms off and put them in the pot. When you have children, you pass on the teachings of what was taught to you because you were told it was the right and good thing to do. Do you take time for yourself now? A Yeah, this is my third year off work.

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How does that feel? I spend a lot of time with my friends, my family, just doing things for myself. The thing I love doing the best is doing beadwork with my friends. I have wonderful friends and support people who take are of me. My friends will come by and take me for a ride. I just sit back. With my children I was very strict with them. We should have taught the traditional way, not the government or religion way.

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So I believe my children have the impact of that, too. So I had to sit down with them and talk to them. They understand. Is that something you have done? Have you talked to them? I really love my children. My husband and I are all excited about that. So something good comes out of bad things, I believe.

I try not to live in the past. I really believe that for myself my past is sort of a blueprint of my hurts and my pains to a brighter and a better future. I use that to make the changes for a better life for myself and whoever I help. This is the first time I actually got to go to a Conference. Are you glad you came?

Do you think it has been worthwhile? I know you said it was hard, but you just said a few minutes ago sometimes good things come from bad. Do you think in a few days you might find that this helped? Oh yes. So that kind of information is very useful to First Nations people. Because all my life growing up I know that money has very little value to Indigenous People because people say it is because we never had anything. We had healthy food, natural food, we had the whole land.

We had spring water. Now everything is contaminated. You go to the store to buy frozen foods. We used to grow gardens and store vegetables in the cellar. My dad used to have a radio and he played it every Saturday and we would catch the Inuvik Station of jig music and we kids used to dance and entertain the Elders. We would get our treat and then go to bed. They would carry on visiting and telling stories.

Good memories. I still have photographs of my father when I was a child about 6 years old. My dad was an amateur photographer. One day when I went back to visit him in Mayo he was tearing them up and throwing them in the garbage. I got pictures of the way our people lived, how they did potlatches and ceremonies and family photos and burials. So I know the history of my people very well, and I speak my language very well, Northern Tutchone. I translate for people. We just need to do it.

Yeah, it is. We are almost out of time. Are there any final words you would like to share? When we work together in unity for something that is good, in the end we will find the good. Thank you very, very much for coming today and having the courage. So thank you so much for coming. Thank you. It seems to me this hour is the longest time of the week for me. And what school did you go to? Where is that? By Kamsack, Saskatchewan.

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Actually, it should be on the Keeseekoose First Nation. How old were you when you first went? I was 5 years old. Do you remember what it was like your first day? Oh yes, I remember.

Can you describe that? It was a day like today. It was Fall. I was excited. I was looking forward to going.

They rolled in a big old green International truck, a cattle truck. I remember it was green. I remember my grandfather helping me get on the truck, on the box, to help me climb on. I remember standing holding on and driving along as we picked up other students. It was really exciting. I remember getting to the school.

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I think what really sticks out in my mind was the smell of the disinfectant they used in the school. It was really harsh. Every time I smell that particular smell I always get that flashback of having been in that school. It was a special disinfectant. I still smell it every once in a while wherever I go. I remember getting into a fight with another little boy who ended up being my boyhood friend for the rest of the time I was there.

His name was Mike. And going to bed. I remember going to bed.

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  7. It was still daylight. I found that a little unusual. What was it like in the Dorms when you went to bed? I remember the bunk beds and how all the beds were neatly made.