Since the beginning, my people lived on the land that the great creator provided. The creator put the Tla’amin people on the West Coast of Canada. It was there that they lived their lives. Taking the form of a human the creator taught my people how to hunt and how to live off the land. He taught them how to catch the great fishes of the sea and to create boats to travel with. My people had a deep connection with their land, they bonded with the powerful trees that loomed over them and with the rich soil that they walked upon. With the knowledge that the creator gave them they thrived off of seafood, fruits, and vegetables. Using baskets that they learned to make, they gathered food from the land. To show and past down their culture, they made artworks like totem poles, paintings, wood and stone carvings, jewelry, and cedar weavings. The creator also taught my people how to make plank houses which were mostly made out of Red Cedar wood. After teaching a great wealth of knowledge he transformed into a mighty eagle soaring over the land watching over his people for eternity.
This story was told to me by the wise elders ever since is was a little child. I was told stories of how wonderful and peaceful life was like before the foreigners came to our land. When the whites came, they disrupted our peaceful land taking more and more of our territory over time. Out of anger, the land plagued my people with sickness and diseases wiping out huge numbers of people in my tribe. This included my father the Chief of the Tla’amin tribe. He was a fierce warrior, stronger than the mightiest bear, and more clever that the wisest fox, but still fell victim to the wrath of the land we failed to protect.
This was all a lie according to the foreigners that took me from my home. I was taken away from my family and my tribe at the age of 13. The foreigners beat out what made me Tla’amin and replaced it with sorrow, sadness, and anger. I was not allowed to return to my people, I was confined in a prison disguised as a school. Beaten daily for doing what they called sinning, they forced upon me a new God that was so different from my own. Many times I tried to escape the school, but each time dragged back to what I truly believe was hell. When I was finally released from the residential school, I was a different person from when I was first brought to that prison. Now years later I can’t sleep without remembering the suffering that I endured in that school.