Main menu


The truth about BC Residential School is revealed in her first book.Her sequel shows there's more to say

Warning: This story contains gory details.

The Secwepemc term Tsqelmucwílc (pronounced cha-CAL-mux-weel) loosely means “we return to being human” and is seen as a testament to indigenous healing and regeneration.

The term is by author and researcher Celia Haig Brown, who delves into the experiences of boarding school survivors and how their lives continue to be affected by the horrors they faced at the Kamloops Indian Boarding School. The new book is also borrowed.

Tsqelmucwílc: Kamloops Indian Boarding School – Resistance and Calculation It’s sort of a follow-up to Haig-Brown’s book, published in 1988, and was a bit controversial at the time.

original story, Resistance and Rebirth: Surviving Boarding Schools in India, It was one of the first books to detail the experiences of boarding school survivors. At the time, publishers were skeptical of the book. The truth about so-called school abuse was not widely accepted by those unaffected.

A woman wearing glasses and a bright blue vest is smiling
Celia Haig-Brown has written a second book detailing the experiences of boarding school survivors. (Lindsey Swanson)

But then she met Randy Fred. Fred was a survivor of Albany Boarding School on Vancouver Island and knew the truth of these stories firsthand.

Fred, publisher of the Tillicum Library Imprint, a division of the Arsenal Pulp Press, agreed to publish the first book and wrote the foreword. Zermukwirk.

A man in a gray sweater smiles.
Randy Fred, publisher and survivor of Albani Residential School, published Haig Brown’s first book and wrote the foreword to the second. (Theoni Reisinger)

But things have changed in the last 35 years, says Haig-Brown.

“People are more aware of what they need to talk about.”

When T’kemlups te Secwepemc First Nation first announced its work to identify potential 215 burial sites at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in May 2021, Fred reached out to Haig-Brown to find out about decades earlier. I advised you to look at the text again.

The main administrative building of the Kamloops Indian Residential School is pictured in 1970. (Citizenship and Immigration Canada – Information Division / Canadian Library and Archives)

Haig-Brown said there was initial resistance and felt there was work being done by indigenous people through various media accessible to the general public. But she said, Fred insisted.

“When the natives tell me I have to do something, I pay attention,” she said.

Before writing this book, Haig-Brown sought the express consent of T’kemlups te Secwepemc First Nation.

“I think there are a lot of researchers who don’t take the time to develop long-term relationships with the people they work with,” Haig-Brown said.

“For me, it’s a complicated part of working in an Indigenous community, especially as a white woman, and knowing that the relationships I’ve built are worth continuing in the eyes of the Indigenous people I work with. is to make sure…”

With their consent, she set to work.

An undated photo of a Kamloops boarding school student and priest. (National Center for Truth and Reconciliation)

Haig-Brown reunited with survivors and their families to gain a better understanding of what they endured during that time and how those experiences continue to affect them.

Some were excited to speak. Haig-Brown said some people are hesitant to bring up painful pasts.

now, Tsqelmucwílc: Kamloops Indian Boarding School – Resistance and Calculation was published by Vancouver-based Arsenal Pulp Press. The company will print the original edition and release it through the publisher on September 27th.

Fred said he hopes the book will contribute to Canada’s ongoing journey towards reconciliation.

“People have heard a lot about the truth,” said Fred.

“We hope that this new edition will spark further conversations and help pave the way for reconciliation.”

The cover of the book is a black-and-white sketch of an indigenous woman with her hair flowing back and scissors on her head ready to cut off her hair.
Tselmucwilc is a book by Celia Haig-Brown, Randy Fred, and Garry Gottfriedson. (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Support is available to anyone affected by boarding school experiences or recent reports.

A national Indian Boarding School Crisis Line has been set up to assist former students and those affected. People can access the Emotional and Crisis Referral Service by calling the 24-hour national crisis response number 1-866-925-4419.

Mental health counseling and crisis support are also available 24/7 through the Hope for Wellness hotline (1-855-242-3310) or online chat.