Out of the Depths

SKU: 9781552667293

Isabelle Knockwood
Grade Levels:
Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Adult Education, College, University
Mi'kmaq, Woodland
Book Type:
Fernwood Publishing
Copyright Date:

Sale price$25.00


Out of the Depths: The Experiences of Mi'kmaw Children at the Indian Residential School at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia is the personal memoir of Isabelle Knockwood. As a child of five, she was sent to a Catholic residential school in 1936. Her memories of this education system have haunted her throughout her life and as a mature adult she enrolled in a university program where the basis of this book began. In addition to her first-person account, the author interviewed 27 former Mi'kmaw students and conducted archival research. The book begins with a chapter on her life before attending residential school. She explains the Mi'kmaw use of the talking stick in traditional Mi'kmaw culture as well as childrearing and education. These early years during the 1930s are fondly remembered. When she arrives at residential school the feeling of intense fear is overwhelming. The chapters describe the origins of this residential school, the everyday life at the school, work and play, rewards and punishments, and student forms of resistance. The interviews with other students recount the beatings, shaven heads, solitary confinement and a host of mental, sexual, and physical abuses. The author recalls an early attempt by the parents to assassinate the school principal. This idea was dismissed when the helpless parents believed their action would only lead to future abuses of their children. The final chapters describe the last days of the school as well as ghosts and hauntings associated with the school. Knockwood wrote this book as her personal form of healing and her contribution to the literature on residential schools is significant. In this newly updated fourth edition, Knockwood speaks to twenty-one survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School about their reaction to the apology by the Canadian government in 2008. She has also included a section called, Discussion between Isabelle and Gillian. This section explores how the author worked with Gillian Thomas to write Out of the Depths. Their revealing discussion describes family violence, post-secondary education, and racism issues. Anyone interested in the Mi'kmaw, First Nation education, and residential schools should read this moving account of one woman's triumph over her experiences.

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