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“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.” –Arthur Bear Chief

In 1978, Arthur Bear Chief started his job at Northern Affairs in Ontario as the Native Employment Coordinator. Prior to that, Arthur worked as an employment coordinator for the Public Service Commission’s Office of Native Employment in Alberta and as a human rights officer with the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Arthur was also a Youth Development Worker and a student residence supervisor. From 1959 to 1962, he served with the King’s Own Calgary Regiment.

And in 1949, he was a seven-year-old boy who was pulled from his family home to attend residential school.

From his dorm room at Old Sun Residential School near Gleichen, Arthur could see his mother in the yard of his family home. But for ten months of the year he could not speak to her and she could not hold him in her arms. When he returned home for the summer after his first year at residential school, his mother said, “My son has changed so much. What did they do to him?”

Arthur, represented by Merchant Law Group, came forward to the Government of Canada in 1999. This was the first time he had spoken about the physical and sexual abuse he had suffered under Bill Starr. He had lived a whole life without ever acknowledging the impact of his decade spent at Old Sun.

Arthur’s forthcoming memoir is not just a detailing of the abuse that he underwent in the residential school system, it is his step toward healing and it is written proof of his resilience and his unyielding spirit.

“A courageous memoir and a must-read for everyone brave enough to learn about residential schools. It’s a tough read—triggering and horrific—but it is also laced with light and the power of culture, language, family, traditions, and learning to trust and try again. I am in awe of Arthur’s bravery and his resiliency in the sharing of his story. I have no doubt that that this book will lead to conversation, acceptance, and understanding. It is a life’s work and one to be proud of.”- Richard Van Camp, author of Night Moves

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

Arthur’s story, My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell, will be available at the beginning of December. If you would like more information about this publication or to inquire about a review copy or author interview please contact Karyn Wisselink at or 780-497-3408.

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MUSKRAT Magazine

MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.

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