Why I wanted to read this book
In my quest to understand more about the former Indian residential schools here in Canada, I wanted to understand more about what happened to Indigenous children who under the Indian Act were forced to attend the schools between 1920-1969. I wanted to read the truth-telling stories of the survivors who carried the burden of the truth forward about what happened and speak out against their oppressors. I want to understand better “the historical wrongs” against Indigenous Peoples by the Canadian government and the Catholic Church. We need to start listening to the truth to bring Non-Indigenous People closer to understanding and reconciling those “wrongs” so Indigenous Peoples can move forward with their stories and bring peace and healing to their community. I feel Fred has done that.
“When the present does not recognize the wrongs of the past, the future takes its revenge. For that reason, we must never, never turn away from the opportunity of confronting history together–the opportunity to right a historical wrong.” ~ Governor General Michaëlle Jean at relaunch for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, October 2009
About the Author
Fred Sasakamoose was born in 1933 on Sandy Lake Reserve, now called Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. He died from covid complications on Nov 24, 2020. He lived to complete his memoir, but not to see its publication. At the age of seven, he was taken from his home with his brother and sent to St. Michael Catholic residential school. He called it “the last day of my childhood” He endured the horrors of the schools, and it is where his love of hockey began. His journey of hockey and healing began, and he became known as the first treaty status Indigenous player in the NHL. He played 11 games for the Chicago Black Hawks and years playing in the minor leagues, years off the ice dedicated to helping his community, paving the way for youth to find solace and meaning in sports for generations to come while advocating for Indigenous peoples. He became a band councilor, served as Chief, and established athletic programs for kids. In 2012 he gave testimony on his experiences in the residential school system during Canada’s truth and reconciliation communion.
About the Book
Fred Sasakamoose shares with us living on Sandy Lake reserve, the day he and his brother were taken from his parents to live at St. Michael’s Residential School, to making a name for himself by directing his trauma and the abuse endured there into hockey. He shares his journey to playing in the NHL, minor leagues and paving the way for Indigenous youth through hockey. He sheds light on Canadian history and Indigenous politics while sharing his struggles to reclaim his identity and heritage ripped from by the church. In an empathic and understanding tone, he shares his trauma, heartbreak, tragedies, achievements, his own and his community’s struggle with substance abuse, his triumphs, and joy.
For my thoughts click to hear what I have to say
Quotes from Fred Sasakamoose
“I will never forget how difficult it has been for my people. Our freedom was stolen. Whole generations were crippled by the restrictions of the Indian Act and by childhoods destroyed in residential schools. Even since those institutions disappeared, anti-Indigenous racism remains strong.”