news | Wednesday September 29, 2021
A big congratulations to Bev Sellars for making the “Bestselling Books in Canada” list. They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School came in at number three for the Canadian non-fiction category.
Like thousands of Aboriginal children in Canada, and elsewhere in the colonized world, Xatsu’ll chief Sellars spent part of her childhood as a student in a church-run residential school.
These institutions endeavored to “civilize” Indigenous 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 They Called Me Number One, Sellars breaks her silence about St. Joseph’s Mission’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.