September 2nd, 1964. That was the day Mike Bruised Head’s life changed forever.
Physical and emotional torment was his daily routine. A nightmare he wishes he could forget.
He was only seven years old when his father dropped him off at a residential school.
“Seeing my father drive away…I thought he accidently left me,” he said
Not knowing a word of English, he tried to communicate in his Blackfoot language.
“I got hit for saying “Hi, what it going on here?” I got hit for saying ‘hello’ in my language.”
Bruised Head spent more than 10 years in a residential school on the Blood Reserve. The school he went to is now Red Crow Community College. He said he cannot even go inside, as it is too painful for him.
“Every time I go in here I get really sad feelings I don’t like this place, never will…never will.”
Stories like Bruised Head’s have now been brought to light through the Truth and Reconciliation report – which equated the residential school system to cultural genocide.
“I think it is. All they had to do to really wipe us out was to put a bullet in our heads,” he added.
For him, right now the report is just that, a report. “These recommendations better darn well be followed, or the thing is it’s just a lie. Not by us, but by the government,” he said.
“The residential schools has to be put into the curriculum, in every province, in every school board. Not just for reservations, where we are reading about our own hurts and pains.”
Pains Bruised Head deals with everyday, but promises to never let control his life.
“All these years I’ve prayed and I vowed that this crazy place did not get the best of me.”