Surviving the Horror of Residential Schools by Skateboarding


[camera rolling] [bright chime]

[train rattling]

[Joe] For me, skateboarding was undoubtedly like a savior,

given the circumstances of me rising up,

having to take care of the playing cards I used to be dealt.

[somber music]

I’m from Maskwacis, Alberta, Samson Cree Nation.

My mother’s aspect dates again all the solution to Chief Poundmaker.

He was a person of peace.

Like, how we’d take a look at Mahatma Gandhi

was how they checked out Chief Poundmaker,

with the utmost respect, holiest of the holies, you already know?

Knowing all this as a child and rising up,

it instantly simply made me proud.

[rhythmic drum music]

I bear in mind seeing my cousin, Mario.

He ollied one other board on its aspect,

and I used to be simply blown away.

Seeing these guys simply launching off ramps

and flying in all places,

I used to be like, I’m going to get this ollie in the future, you already know?

I simply needed to be accepted by the older guys.

[emotional music]

As I finally turned higher at it,

it was all I needed to do.

Skateboarding was my outlet.

[emotional indigenous chanting]

My dream was to develop into knowledgeable skateboarder.

I’m gonna signify and present them {that a} younger native child

recent off the rez goes to make it occur.

[dramatic electronic music]

But my childhood wasn’t the biggest.

When I used to be 11 years outdated,

I used to be taken off reserve and compelled into residential faculty.

They had been boarding colleges arrange by the authorities

and run by the church to destroy my individuals.

Kill the Indian and save the baby.

My dad acquired it fairly dangerous.

Like, he was sexually molested,

however my grandmother went, and my mother went.

And all my sisters and brothers went.

I had no thought what befell at these establishments.

[suspenseful music]

I wasn’t capable of talk with my mother and father.

I acquired to see them like a few times a 12 months.

[suspenseful music]

There had been 250 youngsters in a room with bunk beds,

so you may hear youngsters crying.

You might hear loads of issues at night time.

[suspenseful music]

I might hear spirits in the partitions

from the darkish historical past there.

[suspenseful music]

Who are you presupposed to run to

once you say, Mom, Dad, you already know?

Who’s going to return and defend me from these individuals?

It undoubtedly fucked me up.

But the severity of what I’ve gone by way of is nothing

in comparison with what my mother and father or my grandparents

have gone by way of.

[suspenseful music]

As quickly as I used to be of age,

I pulled myself out of there and moved to Ottawa,

and that is when issues began occurring.

I began getting acknowledged and making pals quick.

I acquired sponsored shortly,

however individuals did not know that I went to residential faculty.

I simply confirmed up, and so they had been like, whoa,

this man’s sort of tough.

This man would not take no shit

and higher watch your self round him, you already know?

He’s a fuckin’ wild card.

And I used to be.

What the are you watching, you already know?

That was me.

I used to be that child.

I used to be coming from a spot the place individuals

inform you that you just’re no good.

You ain’t going to quantity to shit.

But now individuals had been like,

whoa, do this trick once more.

Whoa, this man’s good.

Give him free stuff.

I used to be like, what?

Free stuff?

I like this.

I’m going to maintain skating extra.

[rhythmic hiphop music]

People that I grew up trying as much as

and idolizing in these magazines

had been now calling me to go skate.

[metal whining]

I did not even know that skateboarding

can evolve into this household worldwide.

Oh, they had been simply so welcoming.

And I knew that I had the potential of going professional ultimately,

however when the alternative arose,

I did not suppose I deserved it.

I simply by no means thought I used to be skilled sufficient.

[somber instrumental music]

Back then, I hadn’t handled my childhood trauma.

For many years, I used medication and alcohol as a masks,

however deep down inside, I used to be fucking depressing, man.

You can solely hold it right into a jar for thus lengthy

till that jar goes to blow up.

[somber instrumental music]

I made some errors over the years

that ultimately caught up with me.

Jail broken my spirit,

and I felt like a caged animal.

[somber instrumental music]

Coming out, I used to be even worse.

I used to be dwelling wherever I might, writing suicide letters.

I overdosed thrice in a single summer season,

and, oh, it was simply hell.

[somber instrumental music]

That’s once I knew that I do not need to do that anymore.

Seeing my dad lose his household

on account of alcohol and medicines and the violence,

he did not know higher.

All my members of the family are nonetheless struggling

from residential faculty trauma.

It’s a steady cycle.

[somber instrumental music]

I spotted I needed freedom

and I do not need this intergenerational shit

to be an excuse.

So, I needed to assess all the points

that had been troubling me since I used to be a baby.

All my wounds, all my battles,

and all the struggling, you already know?

[emotional electronic music]

The first day I used to be sober was the solstice.

I went to a sweat lodge in [indistinct] Reserve

and simply prayed to take this subsequent path.

[somber music]

Sobering up made me stronger

and I felt like a totally modified particular person.

I took all that power

that I might put into partying and survival

and simply put it again into my skateboard, and…

[hopeful music]

After skateboarding for over 35 years,

lastly, my time had come.

I turned skilled

and I made my first professional mannequin

as a tribute to my grandfather, Chief Poundmaker.

[indigenous people singing and drumming]

[man’s voice drowned out by music]

[men laughing]

Fuck yeah.

Woo.

That felt good.

[indigenous people singing and drumming]

[laughing]

[indigenous people singing and drumming]

Having that childhood dream fulfilled for me,

oh, it is simply superb.

And now it is time to transfer on to the subsequent chapter of my life.

I’m 43 years outdated.

I’m not attempting to leap the Mega Ramp

or go win an X Game or something like that.

Now I’m simply getting began, you already know?

Joe’s acquired his sleeves rolled up and he is in.

[audience cheering]

Now, in the place that I’m in,

I’m need to educate and be capable of share.

It’s gotta be exhausting, although,

having solely two individuals in your city that skate.

Yeah, it’s exhausting.

I’ll seize this one.

Cool.

For you.

Put your bearings in there.

Your entrance foot will kick useless, useless forward, you already know?

I need to get the level throughout to the youngsters

that if I could make it occur

given the circumstances of how I used to be raised,

then there’s hope on the market, man.

[laid back instrumental music] [waves lapping]

[indigenous people singing and drumming]



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