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Learner story archives

August 4, 2008

The following story was written by Katie Janvier Langley, from Cold Lake First Nations, Saskatchewan. Katie has recently been enrolled in literacy classes at Parkland College in Yorkton. When she was growing up, she always dreamed of becoming a barrel racer. She started doing it at the age of 30, after having her children. Katie is thinking of writing a book about her Mom and Dad and also, her Grandma who passed away.

Katie's Early School Day Memories

by Katie Janvier

In the early sixties, I lived on the Cold lake First Nations. I attended school on the reserve. In those days we went to school with a team of horses pulling a wagon in the summertime and pulled a sleigh with a caboose in the wintertime.

My father was the bus driver. It was a lot of work for him, now that I think about it. You see, we lived about 12 miles from the school. My dad's day started early in the morning. First he had to start a fire to heat up the log cabin. We had an air tight wood heater and a wood cook stove for heat. Then he would go out to the barn and get the horses ready. If I remember correctly, we left at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m.

On our way to school my father had seven stops. If everybody showed up, we had about 15 students for the ride to school. What wonderful memories I have. No matter what the weather was like, blowing snow, a blizzard, rain or shine, we enjoyed the ride.

In those days the roads were not like they are now. All we had were wagon trails. In the summertime, if the wind was really blowing, we would have to stop and clear the trees from the trail. Usually my dad and some of the older boys would help. In the wintertime we would have snow drifts, but the horses would have no trouble walking through the snow . In the wintertime dad used six horses for a team and in the summertime he would use four horses for a team. When we arrived at the school, there would be a lot of bus drivers there.

Back then we had nuns teaching us. The nuns were really nice as I remember and Father taught us religion. Once a week we would go to church. The sisters made us wear these ridiculous bonnets, which were made of felt and decorated with wonderful flowers. All the girls had to wear bonnets in those days when they attended church.

At the front door was a box of black and grey slippers which the sisters had made. We had to wear the slippers which the sisters had made. We had to wear the slippers to keep the school clean while we were at school. We had two schools; the one at the nun's residence had two classrooms and a lunchroom. The other school had four classrooms, a nurse's station and a dental office. We had a large playground with a ball diamonds, which we used at recess. At lunchtime we would all meet in the lunchroom which was in the basement of our school. Everyone brought lunch to school. Some of us used lard pails, for lunch pails, some were yellow and some were red.

Our lunch consisted of cold cuts and homemade bread. Our luncheon meat depended on what the Indian agent had left for rations that month. The sisters always had powdered milk which we had to drink with our lunch. To this day, I dislike powdered milk.

I hope you have enjoyed reading a little about my past, which I enjoy sharing with you.

[This story was taken with permission, from the Parkland College Literacy Newsletter, January 2008.]

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