Anne Jimmie holds up a photo of her and her mother, Christine Jimmy, that was taken in 1948. (Aaron Hemens - Creston Valley Advance)

Anne Jimmie holds up a photo of her and her mother, Christine Jimmy, that was taken in 1948. (Aaron Hemens - Creston Valley Advance)

Saving the inner child: Life after Cranbrook’s St. Eugene residential school

“I struggled with alcoholism for the longest time. I drank just to numb out the pain. I didn’t have to think about things I had gone through.”

This article is Part Two of a series that chronicles the life of Lower Kootenay Band Elder Anne Jimmie. The purpose of this series is to preserve the lived experiences of a residential school survivor and to create more awareness in the community around this dark chapter in Canada’s history.

Before she left for Cranbrook’s St. Eugene Indian Residential School in 1953, Anne Jimmie remembers her grandfather telling her in Ktunaxa that she was going to be able to read him articles in the newspaper once she finished school.

“My grandfather was blind and couldn’t speak English, so I got excited,” said Jimmie.

But when she went back home to the Columbia Lake Reserve in Windermere eight years later at the age of 13, she said that excitement was gone.

“By the time I left the residential school, I wasn’t who I was when I left home to go to school. I went home, and I remember grandpa talking to me,” she said. “I knew what he was saying in Ktunaxa, but I said ‘I don’t understand you, speak English.’ I remember I said that because it was beaten out of me.”

Jimmie was born into the Ktunaxa language, the oldest of Lucien and Christine’s seven children. Her grandparents lived under the same roof as them, and Lucien worked at a farm near the reserve while Christine stayed at home to care for her children — five of whom would end up in the residential school system.

READ MORE: Saving the inner child: A LKB Elder’s experience in the residential school system

“She was a really good mom. She took care of us because our dad was in jail a lot. He died of alcoholism when I was only 14. He was a World War Two veteran, and it wasn’t until many years later when we had chats and had an understanding of the war and what the war did to the soldiers,” said Jimmie. “My mom told me before he went to war, he didn’t drink. He drank, but not never got drunk. He was a good man. When he came back, he started drinking more.”

While she loved her parents, she said that she began to feel ashamed of herself and her family when she started grade nine at Invermere’s David Thompson High School in the fall of 1961.

“I was sitting by the window one day and I saw my mother walking by, and I just hid. I looked around because I saw the other kids looking — because our high school was at the top of a hill — and I remember I was ashamed because she was mom,” she said. “I didn’t want anyone to know she was my mom.”

This sense of shame, she said, was because she believed that she was God’s worst creation.

“I deserved all these things that happened to me. I deserved to be beaten up by someone. I deserved all these things because I really believed I was God’s worst creation,” she explained. “It’s just the way things were. It’s probably because it was told to me that way.”

Throughout her freshman year, Jimmie struggled with adapting to the public high school environment. The routine of moving from class-to-class was something she could not grasp, and she ended up leaving David Thompson High School in the spring of 1962.

“I just couldn’t get into learning there. At the residential school, you’re in the same class every day from morning until the afternoon. You have lunch then you go back to the class,” she said. “At high school, you’re not in one class. You’re moving around from class-to-class. I couldn’t get into that.”

At 14-years-old, Jimmie had already fallen down a path of alcoholism by this time.

“That was my lifestyle. I struggled with alcoholism for the longest time. I drank from that time on, just to numb out the pain. I didn’t have to think about the things I had gone through.”

Her father died later that year in November, and Jimmie witnessed the murder of her cousin at the hands of her uncle in December.

“During the holidays, an Indian Agent came by and he said to me I have to go back-to-school, that I was too young to be out of school,” she said.

She was presented with two options: go to an all girl’s school, or return to St. Eugene Indian Residential School.

“I went back to the same residential school in January of 1963. I went back there but I didn’t last long. I left in April. I couldn’t get into school, I just didn’t have an interest,” she said.

After leaving the residential school system for the second time, Jimmie said she spent the next two years at home, doing nothing except drinking.

“I go back to when I believed that I was God’s worst creation … At the residential school, when I was punished by the nun, she said I deserved it,” she said. “I deserve to be punished for what I did, and I lived that for the longest time.”

Part Three of ‘Saving the Inner Child’ will explore Jimmie’s path to overcoming her traumas. In particular, the focus will be on her experience as a mother, her battle with alcohol abuse and saving her inner-child.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: aaron.hemens@crestonvalleyadvance.ca


@aaron_hemens
aaron.hemens@crestonvalleyadvance.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

residential schools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read