This story is about why I don’t go to school in my hometown of Mistissini. I am now 14 years old, and in Secondary 3. I go to school in Ouje-Bougoumou. I used to go to school in Mistissini, but it was too rough for me. There, I cried almost every day after school because I was always teased or beaten up by other students. Most of the students would call me names.
I still remember one of the students who would spit on me when I wore new clothes. So I always wore old clothes to school. I hated new clothes. I never went out because I was scared that I would be beaten up. When I did go out, I would only go to visit my grandmother or aunts and uncles down the road.
One day, at last, my parents and I got tired of it. They decided to send me to school somewhere else. I was then sent to school in North Bay, Ontario. I was only 10 years old. I really liked going to school there. The problem was that I missed my family, and I didn’t really like where I was staying because I was the only girl. There were four boys in the house, and they would tease me too. I went to school there for about half a year.
After North Bay, I went back to school in Mistissini again because my parents couldn’t afford to send me to North Bay any more. At first, going back to school in Mistissini was okay, because my new classmates were different. Then came summer vacation.
On the first day of school of the new year, however, I was again with the same classmates. They started to abuse me all over again. I cried because I was hurt. The teacher told me to go home because of the problems with the students who were teasing me. I went home. After that I didn’t want to go back to constant abuse and humiliation again. My parents, however, didn’t like that I no longer wanted to go to school. We had a problem. I was 11 years old, and had decided to quit school. We went to see social services. They helped me understand that I shouldn’t quit school. We decided to try the school in Ouje-Bougoumou. My mom called in order to find a boarding home. A home was recommended for me. My mom called them. They gave us an answer within half an hour.
I started school in Ouje-Bougoumou in October of 1995.
I was 11 years old, in Grade Six. I was very shy, and nervous that I would get teased or beaten up. It didn’t happen like I thought. I was happy to be in school where the students did not tease or abuse me physically.
Now, I stay in a nice home with my boarding home parents, Judy and Raymond Capissisit. They take care of me, and help me by having rules and a curfew in the house. At first I didn’t understand why they had rules. It is to keep me out of trouble. They support me in my work and in my social life, by teaching me values like respect, love and honour. I love going to school here, even though we have our ups and downs, but we always work things out. Ouje-Bougoumou youth are pretty nice people to be with.
I plan to graduate from school here and then go to college. I must try to forgive the youth in Mistissini for treating me as they did. What I still want to know is why they treated me like this? Why me?
Angelina Tina Gunner Sec. 3, English Sector
In closing, I would like to thank you for reading my story. I would also like to personally thank my parents in Mistissini, Malcolm and Caroline Trapper, for their love and support since the day I left Mistissini. I love you, mom and dad. I also wish to thank my boarding home parents for encouraging me to write my story. Also, thanks to my teacher, Max Campbell, for proof-reading my story.
Message from boarding house parents:
Angelina is now 14 years old and growing up to be a fine young lady. She is no longer shy and has shown a big improvement in her social well-being compared to when she first came to us, “a wounded little girl.”
Note from one of my teachers In Ouje-Bougoumou:
When Angelina first came to my class she was indeed a wounded soul. It was months before she trusted others enough to relax. At first she was always withdrawn and afraid of being attacked. Over time I have watched Angelina soften. I can remember when I first heard her voice, and later the sound of her laughter. The other students called her “Muchacha” with affection and fondness – the nickname of an adopted sister, the name of one who has become part of our family. Muchacha means “girl” in Spanish, and she became just this – one lovely girl among all the other lovely girls of our community.
There is such a soft strength in Angelina now. I cannot tell her why these children did this to her in Mistissini. What I can say is that they have lost a chance to know this wonderful “healed girl” that we have come to know and love. Their loss has become our gain.