How Blair Stonechild reclaimed his Indigenous spirituality

From residential schools to vision quests: Blair Stonechild's spiritual journey back to his Indigenous roots.

When he was six years old, Blair Stonechild's parents dropped him off at residential school in Saskatchewan. While he was there in the late 1950's and early 60's, he would learn that holding on to his people's spirituality would land him in hell.

"We'd hear that our people were bad people. There was even a little chart on the wall that would show people in First Nations dress going to a place where there was a lot of fire, basically hell. So you know I really had a lot of trouble with that."

Stonechild left residential school at the age of fifteen. He has devoted his life to education, earning his B.A. at McGill and his Ph.D. at the University of Regina. Now a professor of Indigenous Studies at First Nations University of Canada, he is working to 'decolonize' Indigenous spirituality.  

Stonechild says that means "bringing back what to me are very natural, sensible concepts of spiritual relationship to the environment, recognizing that everything has a spirit."

"When the Elders pray, they use this expression - 'all of our relations'. And they're not just talking about human relations. They're talking about everything."

Stonechild explores that concept and more in his book The Knowledge Seeker: Embracing Indigenous Spirituality.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?