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.
I went into the sick bay in January, and I stayed there until the 24th of May. I remember that day because the 24th of May was a big day for the Catholics. There was a procession there, right through our yard. I was in bed and looking out the window watching them. Then I went to the other window, a big window by the bathroom. I was way up high on the highest floor looking down. It was such a beautiful day. The birds were singing so I put on my clothes and I went outside.
I said to myself “Gee whiz, it’s a beautiful day, I wonder if I will get a lickin, or if I’ll get chased back to bed.” I walked back and forth on the sidewalk, enjoying the day and watching the parade. Then they all went in the church. A nun came. She said, “Oh, you’re out of bed. How nice. You feeling good?”
“Yeah I’m feeling good.” I says.
“Oh, that’s fine.”
So, I never went to bed after that. I might have been better a month or two before. The doctor came there only once, but he never said what was wrong with me. It might have been pneumonia or a touch of T.B.
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).