Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 15
- Grade: 10
Indian School Days is the humorous bittersweet authobiography of Basil Johnston, a native Ojibway, who was taken from his family at age 10 and placed in a "residential" school in northern Ontario The book opens in 1939 when the feared Indian agent visits Johnston's family and removes him and his four-year-old sister to St. Peter Claver's School, a boarding school run by Jesuit priests at Spanish, 75 miles from Sudbury, Ontario. In describing the years that follow, Basil Johnston creates marvelous portraits of the young Indian boys as they struggle to adapt to a harsh and strange environment, and of their Jesuit teachers, whose flashes of humour occasionally break through the discipline with which the institution is run.
About the author
Basil Johnston has written 15 books in English and 5 in Ojibway to show that there is much more to North American Indigenous life than social organization, hunting and fishing, food preparation, clothing, dwellings and transportation. Among the books that Basil has written are Ojibway Heritage, Indian School Days, Crazy Dave, and Honour Earth Mother (Kegedonce Press). Basil believes the key to understanding culture is language and to this end he has developed audio programs on cassette and CD. For his work Johnston has received numerous awards including the Order of Ontario and Honourary Doctorates from the University of Toronto and Laurentian University.
Indian School DaysThis is a residential school survivor’s story. The author describes his education under the tutorship of Jesuit priests whose purpose was to teach their Aboriginal boarders their customs and beliefs and make good Christians of them. The daily schedule of the school, the teachers' attitudes and the children's reactions are described. These resilient boys struggle to adapt to an alien environment; their Jesuit teachers occasionally display humour and humanity while maintaining discipline. The author, after living as a trapper, voluntarily returned to the school to matriculate as a high school student: a healing contrast to his forced enrolment as a child.
Basil Johnston, Ojibway author of seven books, has received the Order of Ontario, Honorary Doctorates from the University of Toronto and Laurentian University, and the 2004 Aboriginal Achievement Award for Heritage and Spirituality.
Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2007-2008.