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They Called Me Number One

Xat'sull Chief Bev Sellars spent her childhood in a church-run residential school whose aim it was to "civilize" Native children through Christian teachings, forced separation from family and culture, and discipline. In addition, beginning at the age of five, Sellars was isolated for two years at Coqualeetza Indian Turberculosis Hospital in Sardis, British Columbia, nearly six hours' drive from home. The trauma of these experiences has reverberated throughout her life. The first full-length memoir to be published out of St. Joseph's Mission at Williams Lake, BC, Sellars tells of three generations of women who attended the school, interweaving the personal histories of her grandmother and her mother with her own. She tells of hunger, forced labour, and physical beatings, often with a leather strap, and also of the demand for conformity in a culturally alien institution where children were confined and denigrated for failure to be White and Roman Catholic. Like Native children forced by law to attend schools across Canada and the United States, Sellars and other students of St. Joseph's Mission were allowed home only for two months in the summer and for two weeks at Christmas. The rest of the year they lived, worked, and studied at the school. St. Joseph's Mission is the site of the controversial and well-publicized sex-related offences of Bishop Hubert O'Connor, which took place during Sellars's student days, between 1962 and 1967, when O'Connor was the school principal. After the school's closure, those who had been forced to attend came from surrounding reserves and smashed windows, tore doors and cabinets from the wall, and broke anything that could be broken. Overnight their anger turned a site of shameful memory into a pile of rubble. In this frank and poignant memoir, Sellars breaks her silence about the institution's lasting effects, and eloquently articulates her own path to healing.
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Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSFOREWORD - Hemas Kla-Lee-Lee-KlaINTRODUCTION What Pain Have You Suffered?Chapter 1 My Grandmother First Memories My Grandfather (xp'e7e) Grasshoppers Looking For Work Radios, Dances, Electricity And Running Water Uncle Leonard My Brother Ray Was Born in Prison Sardis Hospital = LonelinessChapter 2 St. Joseph's Mission = Prison Families Separated Duties At The Mission The Food They Gave Us You Wouldn't Give Your Dog I'd Rather Kiss a Dog Than an IndianChapter 3 I Get Religion But What Did It Mean? Sexual Abuse Mental Abuse - A Lifelong Sentence Forbidden LanguagesChapter 4 Health Care? Uncle Ernie Teachers Gangs and Acceptable Touching Boot Camp Style Supervision Letters and Visitors Were Screened by the Authorities Chapter 5 Pain and PleasureSome Good Memories The Puffed Wheat Bandits and Other RunawaysChapter 6 Home Sweet Home Christmas The Shame of Puberty The RCMP, Priests, Indian Nurses and Indian Agents The Training I Received to Be a Productive Part of SocietyChapter 7 The Summer of '67 - Big Changes in My Life Going to School With Whites and The Cache Creek Motors Bus White People Can Be Stupid? Living With Dysfunction Family Chaos Leaving the Safety of Gram's House My Epiphany at Sixteen My Dark Years Grooming for ViolenceChapter 8 My Attempted Suicide and Other Attempts Jacinda, Scott and Tony Mack, My Saviors Stepping Off the Rez Deaths From Car Accidents Finally - An Education The Turning Points: Ernie Phillip and a 25 Cent BookChapter 9 Becoming a "Leader" Cariboo-Chilcotin Justice Inquiry Examining the Aftermath of the Residential Schools Anger Hemas Kla-Lee-Lee-Kla Chapter 10 Indians - An Industry With No Product Don't Ever Think I Don't Miss You, Bev Institutions and Aboriginal People A.I.M. and Other Political Teachings Going to University Final Thoughts ... for Now

Promotional Information

Publicity and promotion in conjunction with the author's speaking engagements Promotion on the Talon's website ( Advertising in B.C. Bookworld, Quill & Quire, Library Journal

About the Author

Bev Sellars: Bev Sellars is Chief of the the Xat'sull (Soda Creek) First Nation in Williams Lake, British Columbia. She holds a degree in history from the University of Victoria and a law degree from the University of British Columbia. She has served as an advisor to the BC Treaty Commission.

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