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Honourary Chief of the Inuvik Dene Band - Cece Hodgson-McCauley - Positive Stories From Residential School


Honourary Chief of the Inuvik Dene Band - Cece Hodgson-McCauley

I am writing this column in a nostalgic mood, and out of luck I turned on the TV, just in time when the Four Tenors came on. Come on, who did this concert in the U.S.A? I love classical music, watching for a whole hour I got into a reverence mood before I started my column because this is going to be a special column, ever since I mentioned there are two sides to every story and this is the other side of the residential school.

There is always a good side to everything and I have been getting phone calls from everywhere after I wrote that people are so fed up. We all know money talks! And we see who is pushing this bottomless pot of millions of dollars (lawyers and their smart side-kicks). They don't want this to end. They keep pushing and using people. They are now going to the jails, using the desperate souls, throwing the crumbs while they fill their bank accounts with millions, and people are fed up reading about it for too many years now.

They say it is about time they stop the negative side and start reporting the good side of this residential school jackpot, and ever since I invited people to phone me on the good side I have had calls from everywhere, even long distance phone calls.

There are a lot of people in town for meetings and I was told I should write something soon, so I promised them I would in this column.

As I mentioned before, our mother died when I was six and my brother, John, was two-and-a-half. It was fall time, Dad had no choice but to put us on the last steamboat, the Hudson Bay Company's stern-wheeler. It was fall time and Dad was a trapper. We went upriver to Fort Providence to the Catholic convent (residential school). I spent 10 years there, going home every summer for the holidays on the mission boat.

The nuns taught us so much. I only remember one nun who was very strict and one nun who made us pray too much. In every society you have people with personalities that are on the bad side. But, I can swear on the Bible that my time in the convent was good. We ate three meals a day, not fancy but nourishing, a lot of recreation, every winter they built us a big slide and we would have fun sliding and we went on many picnics in summer time and in the winter we would go for hay rides, sleighs pulled by oxen. We set rabbit snares and ate rabbit. They had pemmican, that is pounded meat that natives love. They taught us how to knit stockings for ourselves, to do fancy beading for moccasins and to do quill work, from two quills up to 12 quills. We learned to make our own dresses, they taught how to cook and bake and clean.

The boys had hockey and baseball. The native Indian boys used to always try to beat the Metis boys, lots of fun.

In my step mom's time, the older girls use to milk cows. I remember cleaning the chicken coop and collecting eggs. The only bad time was when the nuns picked on older native girls, just ask my sister Muriel Foers. She remembers one big girl who was so mean when the nun put her in charges she sure used the big stick. Muriel said the poor little girls were scared to death of her. She said she told about this at one of those residential meetings. Another thing elders want to say is, aboriginal people have always been mean, especially to their wives. A lot of jealousies, we all know horror stories. I can tell you some good ones. Time to face the truth.

I have had calls from elders, the truth is eating at them because they are scared to speak out about the good side of residential school. The young people never saw so much money and, as they say, some will sell their souls for the money. But that's their business, if they can live with it. But remember when you die, you must face St. Peter, if you believe in God. I believe in God and I pray to him every day, even if I don't go to church.

So, now that I have opened the can of worms with the encouragement of you good people, should we apply for some of the millions spent on the negative side of the residential school and start reporting the good and positive side of residential school? Let me know.