THTBU provides an intimate look into an Indigenous family’s journey to come to terms with their intergenerational trauma due to the Indian residential schools. Seen through the eyes of three generations and bound together by the same hurts.
Content heads up: stigma, discussion of physical abuse, intergenerational trauma, and residential schools
That means in our language, “never ending sky”.
My English name Philip Gardner.
I was born in 1942.
My first language was Ojibway,
so I hardly knew any English words
when I started.
So, I don’t think it’s a mystery why I didn’t do well in school.
You know, stuff about the residential school stuff,
I didn’t know anything about that just until, like I said,
the last ten or so years.
Realizing why your Grandpa is the way he is, because of
the stuff that he went through.
Being forced away from his home at the time.
Growing up and having religion forced down his throat, basically.
But I remember him just being miserable and drinking,
we got our asses kicked a bit growing up.
But I think we, for the most part they provided for us as best as they could,
considering the times.
I just thought my parents were like, just messed up people.
‘Cause I didn’t understand. I was a kid, right.
You don’t know when you’re a kid, you have no idea.
You just accepted that’s your family, that’s your life,
that’s how you live.
Nowadays Western society, they say it’s violence,
it’s abuse, it’s all this stuff, right?
And I understand that.
To me, as a product of Indian Residential School,
we had no choice.
Not my generation, not their generation.
It got taken away from us.
Our choice, our freedom, got taken away.
I think I would say more we – me included,
we’ve lost the
the virtue, if I can call it that,
of real love.
Nobody, there was no expression of love, of hugging.
Or, a kiss or ever being told, “I love you”.
The way it was expressed to us is we were hit a lot.
I went from relationship, to relationship, to relationship, to relationship.
It’s just how I dealt with my, my stuff.
Trying to find love, I don’t know.
I really, I don’t know, like I thought that sex was part of love.
I’m talking about the holistic love of a person, and all things of Creation.
And what I’ve learned throughout my life, that’s the most important thing.
And I said, if I didn’t say it I’ll say it now,
is that you, you’re a strong person.
I don’t know how you developed it, but
you’re gonna make it.
Intergenerational trauma is a reality that remains abstract to many.
Indigenous communities across Turtle Island are still affected
by the traumas inflicted upon them.
However, this generation, and the generations to come,
are strong, resilient, and will stand tall again.