Mother, daughter reclaiming Indigenous roots through beadwork
Linda McCullough is healing by reclaiming her Indigenous roots after attending a residential school.
At just seven-years-old, McCullough was taken from her family and forced to attend Timber Bay residential school, near Lac La Ronge.
"I lived in a little remote village in Saskatchewan called Cree Lake and because of where we were located, there's nothing there, there wasn't a school for us to attend (and) we had to go somewhere,” McCullough said. “I know lots of families had their children physically dragged away. (That) wasn't quite the same for us but we did have to go."
She was forced to stay at the school for ten months of the year and said she endured physical, mental and cultural abuse.
"I was embarrassed about who I was as an Aboriginal person, we were taught to hide our identity and be really ashamed, so I didn't talk about it because I didn't want people to know."
Years after her experiences at the school, she continued to feel that shame.
“She just would say she went to a boarding school and I didn't understand what that meant because just like everybody else. Nobody knew about what happened in residential schools or really even that they existed," Roanne Gibbons, Linda’s daughter said.
Residential schools tried to strip Indigenous children of their culture. For McCullough, her love of beadwork suffered because of it.
A few years after leaving the school and Saskatchewan, McCullough was able to re-ignite that love for creating beautiful pieces.
The two women relocated to British Columbia and are reclaiming some of their culture by creating and selling their beadwork online.
"I'm getting so many orders now, that's why my kitchen table is so full of bead work,” McCullough said.
The discovery of 215 children's bodies found in a mass grave in Kamloops, BC has brought some of that trauma back.
The women say now more than ever, people need to educate themselves about what happened in residential schools.
“We've lived this our entire lives, we've all known all the hidden secrets so this has just helped other people besides us finally believe us and start listening," McCullough said.
The women suggest reading the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action or taking the free course “Indigenous Canada” offered at the University of Alberta.
“We totally need allies right now. We need help, we don't want this to just eventually, stop once it's not in the press anymore,” Gibbons said.