A bored and restless woman, she beat Emily for the first time when she was seven years old and from then on seemed to become addicted to inflicting pain on her daughter. Despite Emily's father's attempts to protect her, the parental rows grew more malicious, until the mother moved out and remarried a narcissistic widower with alcohol problems and a vicious, bullying temper. The abuse intensified until Emily was placed into voluntary care. And so began a toxic spiral of remand homes, psychiatric hospitals, and sleeping rough.
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It wasn't long before Emily became a teenage 'working girl', where she was paid to engage in bizarre sadomasochistic acts for perverted clients, including a senior judge and a policeman. And if you did cry nobody acknowledged it. The loneliness and the pain and the anger would just go away. You just would have to feel that. We fought among each other. We had to create it seemed like in ourselves we had to create chaos to feel acknowledged, to know our presence.
I remember we would fight amongst each other. We would create little gangs, like 3 here and 3 there and we would fight. After we had this really big fight, it was like we had this honeymoon stage, we all got back together. It was a cycle. Every season we did this. I remember it so well. I remember many times I ran away from Lejac Residential School. I ran away at least 4 times. The very first time I tried to run away I was eleven or twelve years old.
Runaway: Wild Child, Working Girl, Survivor - AbeBooks - Emily MacKenzie:
Then we started taking off at a certain time, at supper time, and they caught us up. They cut our hair in the back, like they cut it underneath all over to make it look really ugly. We already felt ugly anyways. Then the second time I tried to run away I went in the opposite direction. And then the third time I was the guide. I was the bush guide! There were 5 of us.
We decided to run away. I think I was twelve or thirteen, somewhere around there. We started out in the evening time.
I walked them through the bushes from those tracks right to Vanderhoof. We made it right to there. We got 2 vehicle rides, so that was good. But after about 2 weeks enjoying the freedom my mom and dad finally found out that I was missing from Lejac and so they looked for me and picked me up. September started and so I was sent back to Lejac.
First there were about 3 or 4 of us who were going to enforce this demand but it ended up just being me and Nancy demanding it. We stole alcohol.
Runaway Wild Child, Working Girl, Survivor
We got drunk. We had to go to bed early. We had to be watched where we went. We were not allowed to have dances. We were not allowed to go to the movies. Finally people were going to the Priests and telling them they wanted to go home. So they finally told us they would give us a ride home. I felt relieved. But there was a sadness there, too, a sadness of leaving. It was like a big piece of a puzzle trying to find your own self, a big piece of the puzzle about yourself, picking up pieces and taking pieces out and putting it together.
Why do you think it is important for you to share your story? You have the right to be here as much as any other race.
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We need to be connected to ourselves, to the earth, to our Elders, to the animals and to the environment. You need that connection. Today I think service providers and professional people and Non-Aboriginal people need to know the history of the Aboriginal people and what happened to them. Governments need to know those things because as a service provider myself I am working with the debris of the government policies, the psycho-social problems of our people. They need to know.
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My one argument today is children are still being removed from our communities. Children, newborn babies, are being removed from their mother right in the hospital. There are still government policies that still oppress the family unity. It still goes on today. The thing that needs to happen is they need to understand they need to give us back our responsibility to maintain our family, to maintain our beliefs and values.
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What is it like to live in a family? What is it like to function as a family? From the beginning of Residential School their parents were taken away as children, and those parents, their children were taken away by the Welfare system, and those children, their grandchildren are being taken away. To be independent.
To find work. The normal way of living. The majority of our People live on income assistance because there is no economics in our community. We live in poverty.
I was a rich kid I would say because I had my grandparents. They are the ones that raised me up. I had the food off the land and I was taught those skills how to gather food and to prepare food. There is a way out. There is a way out of this structured lifestyle to a freedom, your own freedom inside of you.
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