How do you heal from the painful experience and memories of being removed from your family and being forced to attend an Indian Residential School? That was the question on many people’s minds when they came to hear Elder Roberta Price share her experiences.
Sharing her story, around a pile of carefully chosen sticks symbolizing a camp fire, a gathering of people listened intently with open ears and hearts. “When my Elders asked me to answer their call to become an Elder, I didn’t want to do it, I was afraid, but they told me when you are invited, you must answer the call.”
Roberta, from the Snuneymuxw and Cowichan First Nations, acknowledged it was a difficult journey to take after many years of being separated from her family, not being allowed to speak her language, and yearning to resume the life she had as a young child who was loved and cared for.
Roberta went on to describe her journey of healing which led her to eventually become a deeply grounded Elder and a First Nations educator, sharing her traditional knowledge in schools, within the community, and with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike. Today Roberta is a well-respected and sought after speaker and is an Aboriginal Elder Researcher in the UBC School of Nursing. Anyone who works with her quickly notices that she is a powerful role model who takes a positive and productive approach to her teachings.
Recently Roberta agreed to write up her story for In the Moment: Real Life Stories of Hope & Inspiration. Although the act of writing some of her experience down surfaced difficult feelings, she found support from her sister who encouraged her to share her story, as part of her work to deepen her resolve to heal herself and others.
There were difficult moments and many in the room shed tears recognizing similar experiences. Yet everyone was moved and wrote down what they were taking away from Roberta’s courage and teachings, adding them to the ‘fire’, with the hope of sparking courage and determination to heal.
For more information see Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series, and Speaking My Truth, Reflections on Reconciliation and Residential School.
To buy copy of In the Moment: Real Life Stories of Hope & Inspiration, email firstname.lastname@example.org ($20.00 CAD).