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  • They Called Me Number One

  • Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School
  • Written by: Bev Sellars
  • Narrated by: Bev Sellars
  • Length: 7 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (584 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Like thousands of Aboriginal children in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere in the colonized world, Xatsu'll chief Bev Sellars spent part of her childhood as a student in a church-run residential school. These institutions endeavored to "civilize" Native children through Christian teachings; forced separation from family, language, and culture; and strict discipline. Perhaps the most symbolically potent strategy used to alienate residential school children was addressing them by assigned numbers only - not by the names with which they knew and understood themselves.

In this frank and poignant memoir of her years at St. Joseph's Mission, Sellars breaks her silence about the residential school's lasting effects on her and her family - from substance abuse to suicide attempts - and eloquently articulates her own path to healing. They Called Me Number One comes at a time of recognition - by governments and society at large - that only through knowing the truth about these past injustices can we begin to redress them.

Bev Sellars is chief of the Xatsu'll (Soda Creek) First Nation in Williams Lake, British Columbia. She holds a degree in history from the University of Victoria and a law degree from the University of British Columbia. She has served as an advisor to the British Columbia Treaty Commission.

©2013 Bev Sellars (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about They Called Me Number One

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Thank You!

as I listened to this book, as a native women. I had a lot of "wow moments". my grandma was in a Residential school in Alberta. my Grandma had eight children when passed away as a baby and my dad was the only boy. as my dad grew up I feel like he's been through a lot and has taken out his anger on his children and I think it has a lot to do with his mother being in residential schools as well as his father so it's kind of like a domino effect. even though I never went to residential schools my dad was raised by someone that did and it has messed him up which has messed me up my only goal in life is to be the best mother that I can take my children and not let this affect my children today. trust me when I say it is very difficult because sometimes I see my dad and myself, however at least I can recognize that and take a breath and start again. this was a great eye opener to me I have learnt a lot and even though my family has suffered and is still suffering all I can do is have my children appreciate their elders an understanding of history and be proud of who they are mentally emotionally spiritually. this book is a really good lesson I recommended 100% people need to know how bad residential schools were and how it still affects us today.

20 people found this helpful

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Important Canadian History

This is a story that should never have happened. Every Canadian should read this book.
Bev is a bit dry to listen to as a narrator, but I couldn’t leave the book alone. I felt all of her pains and understand her hate. I am so sad and upset that the Native People Of Canada went through this- Good on you Bev for rising to the top.
READ THIS BOOK.

14 people found this helpful

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AMAZING

Bev Sellars is a magnificent storyteller. Her truth and passion left me many times with goosebumps and the feeling that I wish I knew her and her family. I can’t speak highly enough of her book. Masterpiece.

10 people found this helpful

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A reality check for us Colonizing Canadians

I listened with difficulty as I struggle to come to terms with the darker side of my Canadian identity. This book and others like it MUST become part of the curriculum in our basic Canadian education!

9 people found this helpful

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Every non-indigenous person living in Canada should listen/read.

This book will give perspective and break your heart. The author did an amazing job telling the story of her experience. Loved it and thankful for it.

6 people found this helpful

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Important Read

I purchased this book in order to understand what Canadian residential schools were truly like, and I feel that Bev Sellers conveyed her personal horrors thoughtfully. I think this an extremely well written book and would definitely recommend.

4 people found this helpful

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Amazing

As I sat and listened to her tell her own story I felt like I was actually sitting with her. you can hear the joy but also the pain in her voice as she recalls her life. I'm sorry this happened to you and so many others. thank you for sharing your story 🇨🇦💖

3 people found this helpful

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Essential Canadian History

Through justified anger and compelled by truth, Bev walks us through 3 generations of destruction. At the hands of the Mission residential school in Williams Lake and the consequences of the Indian Act, her story is about victory despite the destruction.

2 people found this helpful

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Shocking, eye-opening and moving

A shocking first hand account of life in a BC residential school over several generations, this book will crack your heart wide open. Informative and evocative, I think it should be mandatory reading in Canadian curriculum. Awareness and understanding are the beginnings of reconciliation.

2 people found this helpful

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A must-read for all Canadians

Bev’s life-story is moving and captivating while also providing a detailed snapshot of the Indigenous-colonial relationship our country was founded upon. I don’t usually write book reviews but this is an important story on many levels. I put it up there with the diary of Ann Frank. In fact, I think it’s more important because unlike Natzi Germany, non-Indigenous Canadians, and the world, were (and are) led to believe that Canada is peaceful and non-militant/totalitarian. In my opinion, Canada was worse, because of the covertness of the genocide and the “justification”-narratives that convinced people that state policies and practices were, and are, “moral” and “good”. We are only just beginning to awaken to the harms of colonialism. It is still woven into our systems and institutions as colonial-patriarchal-capitalism is the underlying agenda they were founded upon and continue to serve (now also in the form of neoliberalism). We need to hear stories such as Bev’s so we can more fully understand and awaken to what is really going on - still. Currently. So we can take appropriate and responsible actions toward reconciliation and healing for all, including our non-human world. I hold deep gratitude and appreciation for Bev sharing her story! Thank you Bev.

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  • Susie
  • 2017-08-22

Shame on Church and State

"Few people know anything about the collaboration of church and state to destroy races of people and cultures, genocide in the name of god."

Bev Sellars' often brutal testimony, gives insight into the cycle of poverty of indigenous peoples in Canada and (as she says) the United states, and even into Australia. She shows how dehumanization and cultural obliteration are passed down through generations.

She asks, "Is it possible to make others feel what I once felt?" The answer is yes. Her grandmotherly storyteller voice made me feel like I was hearing personal family history that I needed for my own survival.

Kindnesses shine like stars, but the bleakness is shameful and will be among the list of books that bolster my fight against systematic oppression.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Melissa
  • 2019-12-30

True story

Many of the stories Bev shares in this book are similar to the stories elders that have shared with us regarding boarding school life.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Christina
  • 2020-02-07

A truth that must be told.

This should be required reading for all schools. I was lucky, my grandmother saved me from the 60’s sweep. And I escaped the res, school experience, but my mother let slip some of her horrid experiences.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Denise Stacey
  • 2020-03-20

They call me number One

This book was excellent. The explanations of life in the residential schools was so well described. The author brought you into the world of the Indians and their struggles, physically, mentally and generationally.
I learned so much and have a better understanding of the reservations and the residential schools.
Bev Sellars tells a story that reaches one’s soul! She is an amazing author!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Erin Sheldon
  • 2021-07-31

Every Canadian should read this

This was a powerful, heartbreaking, and heartwarming story. Bev tells her story with clarity and determination. She goes to pains to name the people who were kind as much as she names the abusers. She doesn’t flinch when describing tragedy caused by colonization, but she also tells ordinary stories of family love that will be familiar to every person who listens. I feel like her grandmother and mine had much in common, and I’ve never admired anyone more than my grandmother. This is ultimately a story of personal victory, and a call for meaningful collective action. I am so grateful to have listened to Bev’s story. It is the most important book I have purchased from Audible.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sharon
  • 2022-02-01

A reading of short anecdotes

There wasn’t a story line. It didn’t hold my attention because it didn’t flow.
It’s a lesson for sure but if this is how it’s taught, I don’t think it will be learned.

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  • Y. R.
  • 2021-12-14

So grateful for this book

The author tells a raw story that is informative and moving. It paints a picture of historical trauma that puts you square in the middle of a family’s home. Bev is as wonderful a narrator as she is a writer. I am so grateful to her and so grateful to know about gram. Gram seemed like a hero to her family. A thread in the wind that refused to let go. She embodied the culture and strength of her community and she passed those traits onto Bev. I would recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Kim
  • 2021-09-26

Exceptional

I don't normally write full reviews for books that I listen to, but I believe it is important for you to know that this book will always be in the back of my mind. It has completely changed my worldview on residential schools, challenges that indigenous people in Canada face, the social ills that surround them, and the pre-judgements on both the white side and the First Nation side. The author speaks with such clarity, wisdom, knowledge, and frankness that it is impossible to ignore the truth of what she's telling you.

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  • Tía
  • 2021-07-14

Good Listen

loved it, couldn't stop listening. residential school era is what should be in the history books.

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  • Amoryn Smith
  • 2021-04-29

Important Sorry Beautifully Told

I have heard stories about residential schools in the US from Indigenous people here but the stories are usually a short recall that isn’t very personal. I’m sure they are not easy memories to share. Bev somehow manages to tell her personal stories, along with generational stories, with dignity & laughter & directness. The laughter she shares is beautiful & reminds the reader that people are more then what they suffered & more then their ongoing struggle. Thank you to Bev for being willing to share. I hope many many people are able to listen to her story & make connections between the past and present. It sure helped me to see more clearly.