“I lost a brother and a sister in that school in Port Alberni” — Nanoose elder shares stories from residential school

Sitting in the Parksville Museum courtyard in front of a small crowd, he recalled memories of waking to the sound of a beating drum and his elders singing outside the longhouse. With a soft, slow voice, he remembered being connected to his culture and to his family. 

“Oh, that was the most joyous time of my life, when they were building that longhouse,” said Elder Jim Bob from Nanoose First Nations. 

His tone darkened and became more serious. “That stayed with me when I went to residential school. That saved me — my culture saved me.”

Bob described his time in residential school as hell and said he is surprised he is still here. “I lost a brothers in and a sister in that school in Port Alberni. One was pushed out of a window — my dear sister, she was pushed down a stairway. It’s hard to talk about because, you know, anyone with family would understand the feeling that someone would have over a loss like that,” he said.

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