They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School

by Bev Sellars

Book, 2017


Audible Studios (2017)


Biography & Autobiography. History. Multi-Cultural. Nonfiction. HTML: Like thousands of Aboriginal children in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere in the colonized world, Xatsu'll chief Bev Sellars spent part of her childhood as a student in a church-run residential school. These institutions endeavored to "civilize" Native children through Christian teachings; forced separation from family, language, and culture; and strict discipline. Perhaps the most symbolically potent strategy used to alienate residential school children was addressing them by assigned numbers only�??not by the names with which they knew and understood themselves. In this frank and poignant memoir of her years at St. Joseph's Mission, Sellars breaks her silence about the residential school's lasting effects on her and her family�??from substance abuse to suicide attempts�??and eloquently articulates her own path to healing. Number One comes at a time of recognition�??by governments and society at large�??that only through knowing the truth about these past injustices can we begin to redress them. Bev Sellars is chief of the Xatsu'll (Soda Creek) First Nation in Williams Lake, British Columbia. She holds a degree in history from the University of Victoria and a law degree from the University of British Columbia. She has served as an advisor to the British Columbia Treaty C… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member crystalovesya18
In this memoir of abuse countered with courage, Bev Sellars tells her story of life growing up in an Indian residential school. As is required of all Indian children, Bev is taken to this school at an early age, seven, and forced to stay there away from her family and continuously be abused and
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beaten. The story that Sellars weaves is heart wrenching and empowering in the same breath. When I received this book, I did not expect to enjoy it. I didn't see what could be so interesting about a memoir of a girl at school. Little did I know about what was to come. Right out of the gate, Sellars gave her family's history; none of which was boring. She continued on her journey of narrative weaving her grandmother's and her mother's stories right alongside hers. This gave an even deeper feeling to the memoir. It was like reading three people's life stories in one book. I was very inspired by this memoir and I would say that everyone should read this. Skepticism will sail out the window after the first chapter of reading. This empowering memoir will most definitely get many more read throughs during its time in my personal library.
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LibraryThing member skfurlotte
This is a book that every Canadian should read. I cannot imagine how anyone who considered themselves to be a religious person could inflict such harm on innocent children. This was a very dark time in the history of this country.
LibraryThing member Kimmyd76
Very good book and well written!
LibraryThing member yvonnea
I appreciated this very readable book much more than I anticipated. It was especially meaningful for me as she grew up near the same small town I grew up in. Her daughter was in my high school class at one point. I suggested my parents read it, and they did so as well; I knew they'd know a few
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people and the places in the book also
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LibraryThing member Romonko
This is a DNF for me. I got a little over halfway through, and just couldn't continue. I did not have a problem with what Ms. Sellars was trying to say, and she gave us an insight into her growing ups years, first while she and her siblings lived with her grandmother and grandfather, onto to seven
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years in a residential school, and then her life after she was 12 years old. I think it is remarkable what Ms. Sellars accomplished with her life, and the struggles that she faced trying to get there. But I felt that the writing was juvenile, and I'm afraid I've read far more interesting books about life in residential schools. I didn't find that the book engaged me at all and ( quit reading at about 60& of the way through. After reading books like Indian Horse, also by a Canadian writer, and even Indian in the Cabinet by Jodi Wilson-Raybould, this book, just did not measure up. It may be a good book for young adults e in school to read to give them an idea of what life was like for residential school survivors as it's nt a long book, and is written in an easy to read format. .
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BC and Yukon Book Prizes (Shortlist — Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize — 2014)


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