My name is Peter, and first I am a Human Being, than a proud Indian/Aboriginal or First Nations individual from the T'it'q'et and Musqueam Communities. I am a second generation Residential School Survivor, who never directly went to any Residential School, but bares the scares and history of its troubled and fragile past. My father and many members of his family Survived the St Mary's Residential School in Mission, BC, about three hours south of our hometown of Lillooet, BC. Growing up, I always understood that my Father went to this far away school, taken from his family at a very young age, and spending a number of years there far from his parents and family. Growing up, this is all I understood, for my Father really never talked about his experiences there. It was not until I was 34 years old, when I finally heard my Fathers story and experiences at the Residential School, that is a day I will never forget as well. I attended this Residential School Conference in Vancouver, BC with my Father and Mother, to show support and to continue getting a better understanding of the processes and history of the Residential School. At that conference, my Father was asked if he would share his story with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, he agreed to share his full story, but he asked to have myself present in the room, and just me and the recorders of his story. My Father loved humor and to make people laugh, so he started his story with a funny story, which made us all laugh in the room. As he started to share his story, his demeanor changed and his confidence became more shallow, and at different times trying to hold back his emotion. Then he began to let go, and share the important parts of his story that would trouble any common sense Human Being. At this point, is when I began to say to myself, "Wow", I could not believe what I was hearing. Who could do this to a little boy, punish him so much to damage one of his testicles, and make him so afraid. So afraid, where he would become a constant bed wetter most of his young life, and would even get more punished because of his constant bed wetting. This is the first time I ever seen my Father cry the way he cried that day, for I cried as well so overwhelmed with emotion, I was finally understanding my Fathers character over the years of my life. I blamed my Father for a lot of things, not showing enough love, not communicating enough a way a Father should, and being distant when he should be close, and being to close when he should be distant. Yes, this may sound like any Father and Son relationship, because I finally heard my Fathers story for the first time, watching him shed the honest truths of his character and well-being, and seeing my Father so vulnerable in my presence. For the first time in my life, I finally understood the pro's and con's of my relationship with my Father. When I was 27 years old, I sat both my parents down and told them both, all the shit I carry on my shoulders belongs to you guys, I give it back to you, for it belongs to you and not me. At first, I thought my Father was going to hit me or get mad at me, and my Mother she did not really understand, she thought I was rejecting her. But after a few moments, my Father began to cry, for he understood what I was saying. He said your right, and apologized for doing that. But than I said to both my parents, you know what, I cannot blame you either, its like a generation thing, a Residential School thing, you were taught to shame yourselves as Human Beings, because you were simply "Indian". After that I thought my Father would really open up regarding our Relationship, but he did not. My Father really did not open up regarding our Relationship until he shared his story with myself present. After he shared his story is when I can honestly say is when our relationship changed for the better, we began to communicate more, we began to understand each other more, and of course I was starting to like the change. Most importantly, my Father began to tell me on a regular basis, that he loved me, and what more can a Son ask for.
I would like to share more of my Fathers story with you, but before he left us for the spirit world, after a 12 year battle with Cancer, he wrote his story in a book, so I will let his book tell his sad but incredible story. His book should be coming out in the new year sometime, thank you in advance for taking the time to read this post, thank you and Respectfully yours Peter Leech