This is the story of a young Blackfoot girl who grows up in the residential school system on the Canadian prairies. It’s definitely a coming-of-age story as we meet her around age seven and continue on into her late teens.
Her name is Sinopaki Whitewater, but her first name gets changed to a Christian name as she enters this school system. She becomes Rose Marie and she finds herself in a strange environment, very different from where she grew up, on the land with her family. The story is told from Sinopaki/Rose Marie’s perspective, as well as from Mother Grace, the head of the school.
I enjoyed this story, despite the dark setting of the residential school. I also enjoyed reading the story from the two perspectives of the girl and the woman; interesting to read part of the story in the voice of someone in authority in the school. I found it disturbing to read how the Blackfoot were so powerless in this school situation: when Rose Marie’s father shows up to take her home for summer holidays, he was refused access to his daughter because his home life was deemed “unsuitable” by the nuns at the school…and even threatening to involve the police if the father would try to remove Sinopaki without the permission of the nuns. It saddens me that the school felt they knew what was best for these poor children! I still don’t understand the reasons that led to this decision to even have these schools in the first place! Still working on understanding that!!
Author Joan Crate is Canadian and was born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
*My progress for this Challenge is 10/13!!