​Where the Rivers Meet (WTRM) Website



The article "The Journey of a Ts’msyen  Residential School Survivor:  Resiliency and Healing in Multi-Ethnic Milieus" tells a story through "Llyaa'mlaxha's eyes and experience that is so typical yet so painful when experiencing the trauma of residential  school; we know of this mental stress and call it post-traumatic disorder.  I respond to the article as an Algonquin' whose community was spared the residential school experience, yet because I live in a urban aboriginal community I cannot say that the residential school "legacy" does not intersect with my life and experience.

The article struggles with Llyaa'mlaxha's story from a social science perspective I think, focusing on psychological and sociological factors. I thought Kamala's point that societies can be resilient but they need two factors:  culture and family.  The residential school and its policy framework (and the philosophical foundations to create that policy) understood the connection to family and culture - as wll as language) and used counter-measures to remove the "Indian from the child".  We saw this in earlier bans agaisnt the Potlatch and the Sun Dances in the prairie provinces.  

Kamala, while I was reading the article I jotted the following thoughts down.  I was very pleased how you were able to take this story and pack a whole lot of summary in the end of the article - you are spot on!  Anyways the notes I made include:

  • Llyaa'mlaxha never lost his language - language and the attempt to oppress language - why?
  • Phiosophy of Language?

  • Losing connection with the people after expelled from residential school. 

  • Drinking, anger, and "me-centered" - nature of abuse?

  • Native kids want to be cowboys...why is that?

  • Alchohol and inter-generational issues and attitudes towards alchohol

  • Inability to touch, be touched, personal relationships, etc. - lost childhood characteristics.

  • Moving many times in  life 

  • Seeing new immigrants in the 70's speak their language - angered native people -given that we were not allowed to speak ours in residentail schools.

  • ability to feel again

  • divided families - separation and reunions

  • People not wanting to talk about residentail school - becasue they don't want to relive it.


Kamala I was so impressed how you zeroed on these thoughts and notes that came from my experiential knowledge in relations to the story being told.  The key factor is removal from family, community and safety; denial of culture (speaking language, visiting family and communities, aggressively denying indigenous philosophy and spirituality while promoting Christianity and so forth).


Please click the above link entitled "The Journey of a Ts'msyen Residential School Survivor:" and you will be linked to the actual article Kamala wrote.

This section here will comment upon what I read in terms of interesting concepts that could be considered material in Indigenous Philosophy.  Stories, experiential knowledge, songs, lyrics, dance and ceremonials, language, etc. all provide much material from which to draw out a person or people's thinking.  This article provides an exciting opportunity to see how Liyaa'mlaxha's message can be understood in a multi-ethnic environment.  

The Journey of a Ts’msyen  Residential School Survivor:

Resiliency and Healing in Multi-Ethnic Milieus
Kamala Elizabeth Nayar* and ‘Liyaa’mlaxha