At six years old, Seepeetza is taken from her happy family life on Joyaska Ranch to live as a boarder at the Kalamak Indian Residential School. Life at the school is not easy, but Seepeetza still manages to find some bright spots. Always, thoughts of home make her school life bearable.
An honest, inside look at life in an Indian residential school in the 1950s, and how one indomitable young spirit survived it.
This rather desolate autobiographical novel chronicles a girl's harsh upbringing in an Indian residential school in 1950s British Columbia. Sixth-grader Seepeetza, whose name has been changed to Martha Stone, was only six when she was ripped away from her cozy family farm and plunged into a spartan existence. She and her classmates are beaten with a strap by Sister Superior and threatened not to get out of bed lest the devils grab them and "drag us into the fires of hell." Related as entries in Seepeetza's private journal, this book has a devastatingly simple style and conveys tiny details only a person who had been through such a school could know: "Girls hide bread or raw carrots in their bloomer legs under the elastic. They take it out and eat it late at night when the lights are out. That's when we get really hungry." The story breaks out of rigid notions of right and wrong-Seepeetza is fond of her father although he drinks; her parents may have sent her away, but they are loving; the nuns are cruel but sometimes inexplicably kind; Seepeetza finds moments of happiness in her dancing amid the general oppression. Though the naive tone of the journal slightly distances the reader, the smoldering intensity and unvarnished details still assume a mature sensibility on the reader's part. This title was shortlisted for the Canadian Governor General's Literary Award. Ages 10-12.
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My name is seepeetza
Great look into the life's of children in residential school. Good for all ages, but even better because it can be read as a class. Good way to bring this important issue into our schools!