Clockwise from left: Cheyenne Johnson; Virgil Sampson; Howie Richards; Brian Sampson; Kelly Sampson; and Angel Sampson with her grandson Dominick Sampson. The Sampson family regularly share their First Nation culture and delicacies at thes Yellow Wolf Intertribal Powwow; an event which Angel started in memory of her mother. (Black Press/File)

Going home at night didn’t stop the abuse

Student of the former Tsartlip Indian Day School still struggles to have voice heard

Angel Sampson recalls being called “heathen,” “savage,” and “evil.”

She also remembers the fear of attending school, where she experienced not only emotional abuse, but physical harm at the hands of the people entrusted with her education and care.

From 1964 to ‘67, and starting when she was six years old, Sampson attended the Tsartlip Indian Day School in Brentwood Bay. It wasn’t what people might recognize as a residential school — the site of pain and suffering by many of Canada’s Indigenous people — but the conditions Sampson says she faced were not any different.

In fact, the only difference, she said, was that the children got to go home at night.

That still didn’t prevent the abuse from happening, she said. Sampson remembers having her hair pulled, being choked and battered unconscious to the point where other students thought she’d died. As a young child, she said you were afraid to talk about it, and the nuns of the Catholic Church who ran the Day School created an environment where the children were fearful of speaking up.

The school, she said, is still standing. It’s now used as a classroom at the Leu’wel’new Tribal School.

Former students of the Tsartlip Indian Day School talk about their experiences from time to time and Sampson said she still has to convince some people that the abuse happened.

“Some people still don’t believe these things happened to us,” she said. “They did happen.”

She recalls a conversation with another former student who told her they never experienced abuse. Sampson said by being forced to watch others being abused, even those who were never physically harmed were exposed to trauma.

The silence around these schools began to lift as Canada moved into an era of reconciliation with its Indigenous people, where the abuses suffered at residential schools across the country were exposed and governments and institutions held accountable. In 2005, the federal government reached a settlement with residential school survivors and even made an apology.

For Sampson and others like her, however, their experiences were not included in that apology, nor in the legal settlement.

Simply because they were able to go home at night.

Sampson is part of a class action lawsuit, started in 2009 by Garry McLean who attended the Dog Creek Day School at the Lake Manitoba First Nation from 1957 to 1965. The action is seeking compensation for the damages and abuses suffered by all Indian Day School students — forced to attend the schools, but excluded from the residential schools settlement agreement.

At the time, media reported the class action was seeking $15 billion in compenstion. Since then, legal representation has changed, Sampson said.

“Part of why we’re working on this class action for a long time, is to just get people to take what happened seriously. We want to be heard.”

Sampson said many of the people who ran the schools have long since died and none have been to jail for what happened to her.

“The more we share, the more that comes out. It still doesn’t take away the pain.”

Their experience, Sampson continued, is often felt by the next generation as well. Her own son, Brian Sampson who performs with the rap group Paint the Town Red as YellowWolf, wrote a song called Re-Educate about the Tsartlip Indian Day School.

Day School survivors have recently been meeting with the law firm now representing them in the class action — Gowling WLG (Canada ) LLP. Sampson said their representatives were at Tsartlip earlier this year and plant to be back in August to discuss progress on the case with many people from across the Island. To do that, Sampson said she and others have started a GoFundMe page to raise enough money to get them to Vancouver Island.

“We’re not a rich people. Many of our residents do not have enough money to throw at lawyers.”

So, they’ll do what they can. And they’re hoping others in the community will support them.



editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

Greater Victoria philanthropic food event raises funds for mental health

Oak Bay’s Vis-a-Vis one of 12 restaurants participating in Kitchens 4 Missions

B.C. SPCA Wild ARC seeking donations to replace roofs

Donations made to the roof campaign will be matched up to $10,000

Sideny town crier endorsement of mayor raises ire of resident

Local crier code doesn’t specify personal endorsement rules

Big Brothers Big Sisters seek mentors for kids who need a guiding light

September marks National Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Month

Oak Bay Councillor Eric Zhelka to seek re-election

Zhelka announces intention to run for council seat in upcoming municipal election

Saanich homeless camp residents at a standstill, evicted, prohibited from local parks

‘Ultimate goal is to get people into shelters and longer-term housing,’ Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

B.C. marijuana workers may face U.S. border scrutiny

Cannabis still illegal federally south of the border

Most Read