Archive for March, 2011

Not all residential school experiences were negative

Most reporting on the residential school experience has focused on the negative impacts of the system. However, there were many individuals who worked within the schools over the years; nuns, priests, brothers and lay people, who left a positive impact. One of these was was Rena Martinson who was recently made an honorary member of the Saskatchewan River First Nation. The full story about Rena’s experience can be seen at

There were many like Rena who earnestly did their best to make a positive difference in the lives of the aboriginal children under their care. The help and advice that Blue received from both Father Joe Murphy and Brother Tremblay in the story are examples of this. 

There are many similar stories that could be told by the survivors participating in the Truth and Reconcilation Commission’s deliberations currently being held across Canada. Revelations of this nature would provide balance to the conversation and would go a long way in promoting healing, understanding, and reconciliation between the Canadian public and First Nation communities.

Jesuits Pay the Piper

Just as Brother Denny Boyle told Blue on Page 90 that it was his “turn to pay the piper”, the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus is now experiencing payback time. It has agreed to pay $166 million to more than 500 victims of sexual abuse. The Jesuits are a Catholic religious order whose focus is education. and this the largest abuse settlement by any order of the Catholic Church. (New York Times, March 26, 2011).

Significant as this is to the survivors, this article represents the type of documentary reporting about nameless victims that we have been exposed to since the late ’60’s. It has come to the point where the public has become numbed by it all and just doesn’t pay attention anymore. Accordingly the article was placed on page 14 of the paper. Yet, when people read “Blue Saltwater”, some tell me that they find the story “dark”, like it’s a bad thing, and that it makes them feel the pain. Does this mean that experiencing Blue’s reality will help people more fully understand the gross dysfunction of the Indian Residential School System and its aftermath? I hope so.

Charlie Hunter

Charlie is finally going home. What about Jeremy, Big Louis and the rest? See

Lost Children in Residential Schools

How many aboriginal children died while in the custody of residential schools just like Jeremy Cardinal? Jeremy was Blue’s first friend when he arrived at the school and Blue did as much as he could to help the little guy survive. When Jeremy ran for his life and drowned, it was a defining moment for Blue and catalyzed his escape from the school. See Page 88 in the book.

The recent story in  by Peter Edwards of March 15, 2011 entitled “Star readers rally to bring Charlie Hunter home” reinforces the prevelence of this occurence during those years of incarceration. I think the days of blame must come to an end and instead we must all work together to begin about the healing process. A national monument to all those who will never be found or returned should be built by the Truth and Reconcilation Commission. This would be a good first step and help ensure that we “never forget”.


47% of First Nations people in BC are under the age of 24 versus 19% in the province as a whole. 38% of these kids do not complete high school versus 9% for the mainstream population and not surprisingly their unemployment rate is 22.5% versus 8%. Dirac Most have lost their native tongue and speak English only. When I do the math and look toward the future, I don’t like the view! How about you?


A tough restless teenager, born and raised on Haida Gwaii. He’s had it with schooling that means squat, and with all the quarrelling and anger that fill his home. Balfour . His dream is independence, by following in the path of his Haida ancestors and becoming a fearless hunter on the North Pacific. He is shocked to realize that his father is not the hero that he had always revered, but rather a macho wife-beater whose final answer is aways delivered with the back of his hand. His mother has chosen the refuge of Father Joe Murphy, a new young priest that has come hanging around. How can you blame Blue for being pissed off?

Truth and Reconcilation Commission Meets in Vancouver

The TRC held its latest conference on the residential school experience here in Vancouver from March 1-3. Google the Truth and Reconcilation Commission to see the six entries from various publications on the matter including comments from Phil Fontaine and commission chair, Justice Murray Sinclair.

From the various comments made by individuals on both sides of this subject, there is still a long way to go before a full reconcilation of this matter can be achieved. However, the important thing is that a sincere public dialogue is now occuring, and my kudos go out to everyone from all  sides of the issue who are making this happen. Hopefully, the story of “Blue Saltwater” can become an integral part of this process.