Hard Times in The Residential School

         How could one cope with hardship?That is a question that everybody should ask themselves. Everyone has their own ways of coping with difficulties in life. In Indian Horseand Sugar Falls, the two protagonists in both stories find their own ways to cope withsuffering. These stories take place in the 1960s and 1970s in residential schools, where many First Nation kids begin to run away from the priests and nuns mental and physical abuse. The treatment of First Nation in residential schools is one of Canada’s greatest shame. Europeans took the aboriginal’schildren to residential schools, to eliminate their culture and language, and replace it with the European lifestyle. The author for Indian Horseis Richard Wagamese, and the authors for book Sugar Fallsare David Alexandra Robertson and Scott B. Henderson. In the both sources, Saul and Betsy learn to cope with hardship when they are sexually abused, which causes them to tell their stories. However, while Betsy in Sugar Fallsmakes friends and reminisces of her family, Saul in Indian Horse plays hockey and isolates himself to cope with hardship. Therefore, one should use otherways of coping because every person reacts differently.  


            In Indian Horse, Saul, the protagonist, copes with hardship in the residential school by playing hockey. He tries his best to play hockey by learning the basics and practicing frequently. Also, he isolates himself from family and friends. During the morning, Saul teaches himself how to play hockey. Saul’s job is cleaning the ice rink of his school. He persists through troubles that prevent him from skating. He works harder at cleaning the ice to give himself more time to skate each day. He gives his lungs a workout and clears his mind of everything except ice. Then, Saul develops his skills on the ice by using a horse turd and a stick. Saul shows his skills to father Leboutilier and he decides to put him in the hockey team. Thanks to this,“[He] no longer felt the hopeless, chill air around [him] because [he] had father Leboutilier, the ice, the morning and the promise of a game that [he] would soon be old enough to play” (Wagamese , 66)Saul ‘s mind is finally free from the evils of the school when he learns hockey and starts playing. He is so good at it, so much, so that he is allowed to leave the school to play hockey on a better team. He finds happiness in hockey and that is everything for him. Saul survives his time in the residential school by isolating himself. He is not the most sociable person, so he is quiet, and he does not want to get punished every time he wants to talk. He copes with hardship by being quiet in his own way. Through his experience, “[He] learned that [he] could draw the boundaries of [his] physical self-inward, collapse the space [he] occupied and become moot, a speck” (Wagamese , 48 & 49)That way it is easier for him. When the other children were talking in Ojibway, he prefers to be silent because if nuns or priests see students talking in their own language they would punish them.


In Sugar Falls, Betsy, the protagonist, copes with hardship by keeping the promise that her dad made with her and looking at her house across the river; Therefore, she could distract herself from the realities of the school. Betsy’s goal is surviving the residential school and she holds onto her father’s teaching. She wants to remember where she comes from, what her culture is and wants to remember her background. Throughout the story she said, “So, no matter how hard they try to tear you away from our ways, they will fail because you are strong” (Robertson , 37). Betsy knows that no matter what nuns or priests do to her to make her cry and forget about her father’s teachings, they will always fail. The other way that Betsy survives is by thinking that she is in her house with her family, so she does not have to reflect on the school and her struggles. Whenever Betsy felt sorrow during the night, she just looked at her house across the river, and remembers the good times that she spentwith her family. Betsy states, “Sometimes we were reminded of something better… Just across the river… and we could pretend to be there. Sometimes, we pretended we could even touch the other side”(Robertson , 22). When Betsy works at school, she looks at her house across the river and remembers the good memories that she made beside her family and keeps her memories alive.


Similarly, in both Indianans Horseand Sugar falls, Saul and Betsy learn how to cope with hardship when they are both sexually abused by priests and nuns, and they learn to tell their stories as a way to heal. The pain and self-loathing that St. Jerome’s makesin Saul is as strong as it ever was.Saul seems to repress the truth about Father Leboutilier for many years—but now that he is consciously aware of it, there seems to be a chance that he’ll be able to begin the process of recovery. Saul admits, “The truth of the abuse and the rape of [his] innocence was close to the surface, and [he]used anger and rage and physical violence to block [himself] off from it” (Wagamese , 200). Also, Betsy reveals,“Flora told [her] once how she got through the abuse… especially on the nights he came to get [them], so he could… she would close her mind to it” (Robertson , 27). Saul and Betsy both have been physically abused in the residential school and coped with this in different ways. After Saul realized that he is being abuseby father Leboutilierhe feels anger and rage. Each time when Betsy is abused, she pretends it is just a nightmare. As a result, that was easier to deal with it. Also, Betsy and Saul learn to tell their stories to orderto cope with hardship. Saul and Betsy, both have a bit less pain when they talk to other people about their lives stories, and they could take themselves out of the horribledays. People tell Saul, “people wants me to tell my story. They say I can’t understand where I’m going if I don’t understand where I’m going if I don’t understand where I’ve been”  (Wagamese , 2). Betsy explains, “we need to look at past to teach others our stories and then look forward, together, with knowledge and healing” (Robertson , 40). According to Saul and Betsy, they have to remember the times in the past and where they have been before to make better life for their future life.


In conclusion, bothprotagonists demonstrate ways of coping with hardship. InIndian Horse, Saul copes with hardship in residential schools by playing hockey and isolating himself. Betsy, in Sugar Falls, copes with hardship by holding onto her father’s teaching. Similarly, both of them find ways to cope with their hardship by learning to share their stories to heal. Now in the world today, everybody having their own ways to cope with hard times.


Life of love spoken word

Life of love

By: Flora Salimi

When you first opened your eyes

You saw your family

When you began to talk

When You began to walk

They taught you

Family loves you

They forgive you

They inspire you

Crack open the door

Oh, family is waiting for you

Tick tock tick tock

Time is ticking

Go spend your time

In their warm embrace

When they’re gone

You will never reach the same world of happiness

you are alone

so, spend your time

In their warm embrace

Before you breathe your final sigh

When you’re sick

They stay up late

To see how you are

Without thinking of themselves

They sing the song

They are strong

Family means everything

Family means you own the world

Family means happiness

Family means loving each other

No matter how great you are

No matter how many losses you take

Love is as boundless as a vast lake

Many times, you’ve been broke

Every second when you stroke

Family will always be here

And our family will always be there

Tell me what family means to you
Is it all the little special things one another do
Or is it the bond that one another has
Maybe it’s the love from one generation to another

Family is more than a six-letter word
It is a word that often needs to be heard
Family is more than relatives -they are friends
Friend that will stick with you to the very, very end

A family bond is stronger than ever
Because it can overcome any stormy weather

A family stands tall no matter how hard they fall
Uniting as one with their backs against the wall

That is simply what a family does
Helping you become a better you

So when you think about the word family
Think beyond just the background history

When you think of your family

You become more strong

More powerful


Doesn’t matter how much money you have

No matter the size of your house

No matter how many people you can buy

But can you buy a family?

Like they say an empty house is not a home
And a true faithful family never stands alone


When you feel depressed

When you are hopeless

Go home

Crack, open the door

Oh, family is waiting for you

two things that I’m proud of :

I used poetic devises like Imagery, simile, metaphor, and I’m glad that I made eye contact with the audience.

two that I have to improve next year: 

Next time I have to improve my speech speed, and I need to memorize my spoken word.

obstacles I encounter and how I solve them:

I decided to write about the importance of the family. I was so nervous because I thought I couldn’t make it and that’s going to be to short, but then I decided to write things that I know about my family and then I add them all together.

My Unforgettable Day in my life

Have you ever had a near-death experience? I thought my life was about to end, then all of a sudden, I was panicking for air. The waves and the riptide were pulling me under. My life flashed before me. When I surfaced above the water, I couldn’t find my family.

It’s all started on a warm summer day; I was just nine years old when I was at home with my mom and my brother in Tehran, the capital of Iran. My aunt and her family decided to spend their night with us. The next morning, they decided to travel to Shomal; which is the city in North of Iran.
Shomal is the beautiful area, similar to Vancouver, BC. The beaches are magnificent and surrounded by old trees that are flushed with different shades of green.

It takes five hours to get to Shomal by car. My uncle wanted to go to the beach, to spend his holidays with his family.

In the morning, I insisted on going with them, but my mother didn’t agree and she said, “I really don’t want you to go without me, because it’s a big responsibility for your aunt to take care of you. Besides, your brother has to apply to university, and I can’t come with you at that moment.”

I was so mad and furious. At that moment the tears started to well up in my eyes, and I was heartbroken.  My aunt came into the room and asked me,” What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” I could barely get the words out that I really wanted to go to Shomal.

After that, my aunt and her husband spoke with my mom and try to convince her that I could go with them. As a result, my mom changed her mind and replied, “I guess she could come with you, as long as it’s not too much trouble and responsibility for you.”

After my mom’s permission, I got ready, and we were on the way out the door. I was full of anticipation and enthusiasm, looking forward to an exciting adventure at the beach.
On the way to Shomal, I was in the car, playing card games with my cousins. Time seemed to fly by because we were laughing and having fun.
As we entered the entrance of the farm, I saw many dark green patches of grass with the small amount of water between them. The patches of grass were dancing in the warm breeze.
The sun’s heat beamed down on our faces. We were full of joy and laughter. The birds were singing peacefully among the trees, like a choir in the church. We were ready to get back on the road, to travel closer to the beach.
Once we arrived, we were all eager to get out of the car. Little cabins decorated the edge of the beach. I was so glad that we rented one. We all walked towards the cabin and looked inside filled with awe. The inside was sculpted was astonishing wood carvings on the wall, with pretty plants on the shelf. A blue-flowered couch sat in front of the fireplace, accompanied by bunk beds. We started to unpack our suitcases and settle in. My cousin and I were still anxious to see the sights of the beach and surrounded the area, so we climbed up to the roof.  We saw several people walking along the soft sand of the beach and some of them were playing in the waves splashing and having a ball and some were restfully sitting back in their lawn chairs reading books. It was about 4 o’clock and the weather was cooling down a bit, so we decided to go and wake my aunt and uncle. I was restless and over-excited to go for the swim. When we reached the cabin, my aunt and uncle were awake. I asked them if they want to go for a swim, as the weather had cool down.

They agreed eagerly and said, “Yes! Let’s go.” So, we all got changed into appropriate clothing. We put sunblock on, so we wouldn’t get burned and descended toward the sea. My aunt and uncle started to put down their beach mats, and we started to walk upon the warm soft sand until we reached the edge of the sea where the waves were slowly drifting down to our ankle. My aunt decided to stay back and rest upon the warm golden sands of the beach. My cousins, uncle and I slowly walked out towards the wavering blue sea until the water reached our knees. Everything was going okay. We were splashing water around and splashing to each other. Laughing and smiling; our faces turned toward the sun. My cousin, uncle and I were having fun until the water came rushing in under our feet, pushing us out to sea.

I started to panic and was startled. I tried to reach the bottom, but I couldn’t. There was water all around me. I thought I was going to drown. My uncle and my cousins were beside me and I tried to grab onto them, so I could hold onto them for safety. As I felt I was drowning, I grabbed them accidentally pushing them under the water. They were frantically kicking and splashing around. Going in and out, up and down chaotically. We were all scared for our lives. This was the first time in my life that I felt fear, I thought I might not make it. I was praying to God, to save us. My uncle was trying very hard to grab on to me, but he couldn’t. I couldn’t see anybody around, and I was gasping for air, desperately to feel my feet on the sea floor. I could hear people shouting in the distance, but I couldn’t see them. I felt like giving up, so I went back under the water and I almost touched the bottom, I wanted to die because I was desperate. I was so tired of splashing water to get some breath, so I held my breath while I was under the water. I was so sorrowful that I couldn’t see my family again. But after few seconds, I realized that I could not hold my breath anymore, so I went back up for air. I was exhausted from fighting for my life and trying to catch my breath while trying to stand up.

I started to drift toward the sand and as I was, I felt my uncle’s hands scoop me up from the water and drop me on to the sand floor. I looked around for my cousin and with a sigh of relief, I saw they were okay. I asked my cousins how they got out of the water?

” Our dad helped us first because we were closer to him, and then he swam again to help you.” they replied. Then we walked to my uncle and aunt and came back to the cabin.

Finally,during the whole week we went shopping, visit the gorgeous places in Shomal and again we went to other beaches, but this time my cousins and I didn’t go inside of the water because we were aware and caution to look at the sign first. We made the small and little castle, houses with sand and we enjoyed the weather and the view.

In conclusion,I learned many valuable lessons about life. Now I reflect back on that day, I realize how close I was to death, and how precious life is.

  • two things that I’m proud of is first I learned how to write a hook for my essay and second one is I learned how to make imagery in my essay.


  • The two things that I have to improve is first I shouldn’t write unnecessary detail in my essay and the second thing is I should make sure when I have to start a new paragraph.


Where I’m From

I’m from Iran

From four colorful season and bright blue sea

I’m from the wonderful sport of volleyball

jumping high, yelling loud, hanging on the court

Im from various experiences

By travel to gorgeous countries and seeing different people

Im from nouroz Iranian new year and good behavior family

From my beautiful mom and handsome dad

I’m from patience and hard work

From sweats and sours

I’m from Muslim country and gold mosques

Im from second best city in the world where is Vancouver

From the smoke salmon fish, Precious maple syrup

From the intelligent educated family same as my dad

The funny and cute brother

I’m from sociable, loyal and beneficial family


The Human Condition Paragraph

The movie Freedom Writers directed by Richard LaGravenese, is based on a true story about racism that occurred between Caucasians and negros in 1994 in California. The teacher, Erin Grunwell, enters high school to start her first English teaching job. She notices lots of discrimination happening between students and even as far as seeing people killing each other because of their skin color. The students don’t like her because she is white and they think she is racist like other white people. She tries to make peace and to help students to learn about how to graduate with high marks and teach them that people’s behavior are not all the same. Erin works hard to make money and pay for the resources provided to teach properly. The students finally decide to open up to Erin and have her as the teacher for the rest of high school, and the students become best friends. In conclusion, this movie shows that no matter what your skin color is, we are all human, and we need to respect and care for each other, as well as learning how to be tolerant.