Book Review: They Called Me Number One

…Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School. A memoir by Chief Bev Sellars

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Canada, like every country on earth, has its share of dirty secrets and there’s no dirtier secret than its maltreatment of First Nations peoples for several hundred years. Just like the family with the proverbial elephant in the room, without an understanding of historical, colonialist oppression, our nation will remain dysfunctional and our maturity will be blocked. It’s shameful that even today, in 2015, so many Canadians have a racist view of Aboriginals. This shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose, given that we still live in a world dominated by white guys doing it by themselves. Nevertheless, there’s a growing sense that it’s time to cease our collective ignorance and Bev Sellar’s extraordinary memoir, They Called Me Number One, would be an effective way to begin that process.

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Truth and Reconciliation

June Op-Ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

The Truth and Reconciliation commission just ended and now the government must follow through with its recommendations. Top of the list should be making it mandatory that the history of residential schools is taught in grade school curriculum.
Two weeks ago I was in a Fraser Valley classroom and the teacher asked the students (all non-Native), whose ages ranged from 19 to 25, if the history of residential schools should be taught in schools. Of the ten students, two said yes, eight said variations of no. “They get enough handouts already,” one student said and the rest agreed, parroting what they’ve heard many times before from people just as ignorant. Further discussion revealed the students had little or no actual knowledge of residential schools, let alone the horrors that occurred inside them or the terrible repercussions that ensued.

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