My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A very powerful memoir and one that really made me think about my own ignorance of my fellow Canadians. This one has been really sticking with me and makes me want to discuss with others. The abuse the Indigenous people of Canada have suffered at the hands of the priests and nuns - both sexual, physical and mental have such long reaching consequences. It sickens me that someone who is supposed to be a messenger of god could do such harm. I know people around the world think of Canada as a place of peace where there is no prejudice. I really wish that was true my friends, but we are not saints here. The fighting just to be done to actually use the term survivor makes me feel deep disgust for my fellow Canadians and our government. This book speaks quite plainly about the abuse, but it also talks about forgiveness, change, and most importantly - hope. This was truly an eye opener for me. I won't lie, its not well written, but that is really not that big of a deal as Wab is truly a storyteller, which is more important to me. Wab is a flawed and human just like the rest of us and I appreciated his self deprecating humour. This book is also a raw, honest look into a father and sons relationship.
"More than any inheritance, more than any sacred item, more than any title, the legacy he left behind is this: as on that day in the sundance circle when he lifted me from the depths, he taught us that during our time on earthy we ought to love one another, and that when our hearts are broke, we ought to work hard to make them whole again."
"The police in Kenora used to come and round us up at two in the morning, if you were standing on the street corner, and take you to the drunk tank. Didn't matter if you were drunk or not. Just if you were Indian."
"The Residential schools were institutions of cultural genocide."
"Whenever Indigenous people stand up to safeguard their hormelands or sacred sites, it seems the prospect of job losses is ueed to whip up opposition to them. It's as if the people cannot have both jobs and spirituality. I would like to think we can make a living and still respect the earth."
"The combined weight of the churches and the Canadian state has been set on crushing children like him when they were just little - barely five, six or seven years old - but they did not break. They survived. They may have lost some of their friends, and may have been damaged along the way, but they did not give up."
"Over a lifetime of internalizing the message that you are "less than", you start to believe some of the lies you hear about yourself. It lowers your sense of self-worth and influences your behaviour. You begin to censor your own thoughts and actions or make choices because of the way you expect to be perceived as an Indigenous person."
"The First Nations youth suicide rate is five to six times the national average, and the rate for Inuit youth - is even higher - about eleven times the national average. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young Indigenous , and no one is able to explain it completely. Part of the cause has to do with learned behaviour and dysfunction, most notably from the residential school experience. I saw that play out in my own family. Generations were raised by strangers, and in some cases abusers. When these generations came home and started families, they treated us, their children, as they had been treated in those institutions."
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