My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell is a simple and outspoken account of the sexual and psychological abuse that Arthur Bear Chief suffered during his time at Old Sun Residential school in Gleichen on the Siksika Nation. In a series of chronological vignettes, Bear Chief depicts the punishment, cruelty, abuse, and injustice that he endured at Old Sun and then later relived in the traumatic process of retelling his story at an examination for discovery in connection with a lawsuit brought against the federal government. He returned to Gleichen late in life—to the home left to him by his mother—and it was there that he began to reconnect with Blackfoot language and culture and to write his story.
Although the terrific adversity Bear Chief faced in his childhood made an indelible mark on his life, his unyielding spirit is evident throughout his story.
Purchase a copy or download the ebook licenced under a Creative Commons Licence at http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120260
About the Author
Arthur Bear Chief left Old Sun Residential School at the age of seventeen. He initially worked at Shingwauk Indian Residential School as a student counsellor, before embarking on a career with the government, which included work with the Public Service Commission of Canada in Edmonton and Northern Affairs in Ottawa. He now lives on the Siksika Nation.
Rise Book Club Launch
Athabasca University Press is partnering with RISE—Reconciliation and Solidarity Edmonton on the launch of their citywide book club. Together they will be reading Arthur Bear Chief’s residential school memoir, My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell (Athabasca University Press, 2016).
RISE is described by co-founder Miranda Jimmy as…
an inclusive group that brings people together to support each other’s learning about the truth of our past and changing the way it impacts our relationship with one another by promoting reconciliation in both actions and words.
In December 2016, AU Press published the memoir, My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell by Arthur Bear Chief. The memoir is a frank account of Arthur’s experience at Old Sun Residential School, a school located just outside Calgary in Gleichen, Alberta. AU Press will be offering the ebook for free and readers are invited to read along at www.risebookclub.ca.
The book club will be launched on March 30th at City Hall to mark the 3rd anniversary of the TRC’s arrival in Edmonton to collect statements from residential school survivors. The event will feature a panel of speakers including Arthur Bear Chief and Charlene Bearhead, co-chair of DownieWenjack Fund.
What people are saying about My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell…
. . . raw, graphic, and compelling. No two residential school survivor stories are the same, each one bringing us to a deeper understanding of our country and our past failings. Reading this will help you consider our present-day responsibilities and our collective opportunities to set things right.
—Dr. Marie Wilson, Commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2009–2015
A courageous memoir and a must-read for everyone brave enough to learn about residential schools. It’s a tough read—triggering and horrific—but it is also laced with light and the power of culture, language, family, traditions, and learning to trust and try again. I am in awe of Arthur’s bravery and his resiliency in the sharing of his story. I have no doubt that that this book will lead to conversation, acceptance, and understanding. It is a life’s work and one to be proud of.
—Richard Van Camp, author of Night Moves
In straightforward prose, Arthur Bear Chief testifies to his years in an Alberta residential school and the painful legacy it imprinted on him and his loved ones. With both humour and heartbreak he calls out his abusers, the harsh reality of the claims process, and his own internalized racism. Bear Chief also speaks with pride and hope when he tells of his efforts to reclaim his Blackfoot language and culture and heal from his traumas for the sake of his grandchildren. It is important for Canadians to bear witness to all these stories of survival.
—Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, editor of In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation