Content Warning: This article contains content about residential “schools” which may be triggering. Please read with care.
In 1986, Alphonse Little Poplar and Irene Fineday welcomed a family friend named David Doyle to their family land on the Sweetgrass First Nation. Mr. Doyle spent three months staying in a small building next to their home, over the winter. He spent his evenings interviewing Alphonse, recording these interviews on a cassette recorder. After leaving the reserve, Mr. Doyle had their contents transcribed. Unfortunately, over time all of the cassettes save for one were accidentally destroyed.
In June of 2020, Mr. Doyle gifted Eden Fineday, IndigiNews’ Business Aunty, and Alphonse and Irene’s granddaughter, with ownership and possession of the manuscript containing all of her grandfather’s transcribed stories. IndigiNews is publishing these stories so that Alphonse’s incredible memories and gentle storytelling may be shared with our readers.
Portions of this manuscript have previously been published in the Battlefords News Optimist.
Edward La Liberte was one boy from Meadow Lake [Saskatchewan] who never went home. He never went home because he had no parents. His dad was gassed in the first World War and he spent the rest of his life in the Saskatchewan hospital. His Mom died giving birth to another baby that he never saw.
There were three orphans there, Edward and his two sisters. They lived at Thunderchild School. I guess that one girl was little more than a baby, four or five years old.
The nuns were so damn miserable they wouldn’t let him visit his sisters. There was a girl’s side and a boy’s side. He stayed on one side and they stayed on the other. They would not let these girls come and see their brother.
Once in a while he’d see them walking somewhere or they would see him walking. They couldn’t walk together. They couldn’t even have dinner together.
Edward died years later of a heart attack. He was a Chief. They went to Saskatoon to a meeting; at night they went dancing and he died while he was dancing. That is what I heard anyways.