It was a year ago that the announcement came, telling us that 215 graves had been found on the site of a former residential school here in BC.
This morning, poking through a stack of books in the living room, I once again opened a book that tells a story of life in such a school. Called The Ledgerbook of Thomas Blue-Eagle, it's a contemporary re-creation of just the kind of books children were given to keep their lessons in -- leftover ledger books donated by the local bank. No matter that the paper was lined for keeping accounts; children kept their own accounts, in this case, with details of a boy's young life.
Text accompanying the image above reads in part:
At night we had to wear long red suits that scratched our skin. We slept on iron beds. It was very different from sleeping in my warm tipi under buffalo robes with Two Painted Horse nearby. Each boy was allowed only one keepsake to remind him of home...
This book and its story comes from the US, where things were somewhat different than here in Canada. For one thing, I don't believe children in our residential schools were allowed to keep anything, not even their long hair.
Because I've been away (and offline), this blog has been empty for a few weeks. But with an observance as important as this one -- with even our Governor General in attendance -- it seemed like the right time to come back to the big limb.