Bev Sellars on reclaiming Canada's Indigenous history
Award-winning author Bev Sellars is a survivor of the residential school system. Her 2013 memoir, They Called Me Number One, tells the chilling details of being ripped away from her family, culture and identity and the lasting effects of her traumatizing childhood. In February, the former chief of the Xatśūll First Nation spoke to Shelagh Rogers at the University of Victoria about her new book, Price Paid: The Fight for First Nations Survival. It takes a look at the misconceptions, myths and falsehoods about Indigenous people and their monumental contributions that have gone undocumented for centuries.
Learning to live with each other
I would like people to understand that the Indian Act needs to go out the window. But at the same time, you can't do away with the Indian Act without replacing it with something. What we need are just and fair treaty settlements. None of us are going anywhere. We're all here to stay. But we have to learn to live with each other and Aboriginal people need to be a big part of how things operate in the territories. I think people will find that the way we want to operate is actually good for the environment and for the rest of society.
"What do you want?"
I really struggle with that word "reconciliation." People have asked me, "What do you want?" And I want the struggle for First Nations survival to end. I want recognition of all the Indigenous contributions to be recognized and put in the school curriculums. I want people to really understand the history of Canada and that includes at the very beginning —Aboriginal people and how they helped everybody get established in this country. That's what I want.
Bev Sellars' comments have been edited and condensed.