Trigger Warning: This story contains content about child abuse at the so-called residential “schools.” Please read with care for your spirit and well-being.
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.
Peter Bear was a boy that walked with kind of a stiff leg. He walked like one leg was shorter than the other. Once in a while he would fall down. The nun would come running and pull her strap. They all carried a strap, but hidden, so people don’t see it. She would pull that out and would give that boy a lickin. He’d yell, just like a coyote, “Heel-eel,” till he’d pass out. Then the nun would go to work on him with the strap, till he would come around.
He would have come around anyway without the strap.
One day we were going to clean this place. We called it “the hole.” We were going down there and this guy fell down. Right away the nun, she ran over and started hitting him.
Jullian Morraste — he was from Meadow Lake and somehow related to Peter Bear — stood up to the nun and took away her strap.
“Put that strap away; hide it where you regularly hide it. That guy is sick. He needs a doctor, not you. Don’t do that again, that’s cruel.”
By golly, that nun got scared. The nuns became scared of boys as they grew up. They quit strapping him.
Dear cuzzins, if you or anyone you know is struggling with a visit with depression, suicidal ideation or attempts we want you to know help is available at KUU-US Crisis Line Society.
Adults/Elders (250-723-4050), Child/Youth (250-723-2040), Toll free (1-800-588-8717), or the Métis Line (1-833-MétisBC).