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My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell

by (author) Arthur Bear Chief

afterword by Frits Pannekoek

preface by Judy Bedford

Athabasca University Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2016
Personal Memoirs
About indigenous people or experiences , Author lives in Alberta , About Alberta

Full alternative textual descriptions

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  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Dec 2016
    List Price

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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.

About the authors

Arthur Bear Chief left Old Sun Residential School at the age of seventeen. He 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 Siksika Nation.

Arthur Bear Chief's profile page

Dr. Frits Pannekoek was born in Holland and educated in Canada at the University of Alberta and Queen's University (PhD). From 1975 to 1979, he was Chief, Historical Research Branch for Parks Canada in Winnipeg. In 1979, he was appointed Director, Historic Sites Service of Alberta's Department of Culture and Multiculturalism. He has written a number of articles for historical periodicals and has served as editor of Prairie Forum. He now lives in Edmonton.

Frits Pannekoek's profile page

Judy Bedford's profile page

Excerpt: My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell (by (author) Arthur Bear Chief; afterword by Frits Pannekoek; preface by Judy Bedford)

“Often fear is the only emotion that comes when we are unsure of the unknown. I took a courageous step in my approach to the unknown by writing this book in hopes that it will help me in my journey of healing and recovery from my abuse at Old Sun Residential School. Everything else I have attempted eventually led me back to myself without any resolution
to rid me of my demons. My emotions still overtake me at times, and I sit and cry for myself and many others who are not here—gone, but alive in my memory. May your spirits guide me, as they did in my writing of this book. If your spirit is restless, I hope this book will give you some sense of peace. If that is the case, I too will be at peace with you.”

Editorial Reviews

"... a remarkable example of Indigenous storytelling and proof of the lingering psychological damage of residential schools on their survivors. . . . These [the appendixes] push conversations concerning residential schools into several arenas, offering readers a more complete view of the schools' operations and legacy than previously published."