Witness

My story is, I was brought up in a foster home starting from when I was five years old. My foster mom fostered kids from all kinds of nations: I had two Chinese foster sisters, two foster sisters from India, one foster sister from the Ukraine, one from Germany, one from Sweden and one from Japan. So in a way I had my own little multicultural family. I didn’t know much about my First Nations history until years later. My foster mom took me to England in ’58 and came back to Canada in ’63 while she finished her RN (registered nurse). And we moved back to Nanaimo when she took a job at the Indian hospital, which used to be, yeah, I guess they called it the Indian hospital back then. I didn’t really get to know my heritage until the late ’70s, when I first met my biological mom and she shared some stories with me, and she told me about taping my late dad who I never really met. Actually I don’t think I’ve met him at all. I went to his funeral, but it was my first introduction to the longhouse and my sister, one of my biological sisters, if I recall, what they call witnesses, what they do is witness the work that is going on and take it back to their family or their tribe and tell the people what they witness. I had to give them 50 cents. And when we got back to my mom’s place, my sisters explained to me what that meant. Years ago they used to just call one from each tribe, usually the chief, who are the representatives, and he’d go back and explain to his people what he witnessed, the work he witnessed.