They Called Me Number One

Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School
Narrated by: Bev Sellars
Length: 7 hrs and 17 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. They Called Me 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 Commission.

©2013 Bev Sellars (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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Shame on Church and State

"Few people know anything about the collaboration of church and state to destroy races of people and cultures, genocide in the name of god."

Bev Sellars' often brutal testimony, gives insight into the cycle of poverty of indigenous peoples in Canada and (as she says) the United states, and even into Australia. She shows how dehumanization and cultural obliteration are passed down through generations.

She asks, "Is it possible to make others feel what I once felt?" The answer is yes. Her grandmotherly storyteller voice made me feel like I was hearing personal family history that I needed for my own survival.

Kindnesses shine like stars, but the bleakness is shameful and will be among the list of books that bolster my fight against systematic oppression.

6 people found this helpful

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A truth that must be told.

This should be required reading for all schools. I was lucky, my grandmother saved me from the 60’s sweep. And I escaped the res, school experience, but my mother let slip some of her horrid experiences.

2 people found this helpful

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True story

Many of the stories Bev shares in this book are similar to the stories elders that have shared with us regarding boarding school life.

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They call me number One

This book was excellent. The explanations of life in the residential schools was so well described. The author brought you into the world of the Indians and their struggles, physically, mentally and generationally. I learned so much and have a better understanding of the reservations and the residential schools. Bev Sellars tells a story that reaches one’s soul! She is an amazing author!

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loved it

thank you for sharing! sharing is healing for all as us indigenous people can relate and understand ther historical trauma in our own families