When Debbie Good's mother died in car accident and her sister Sarah was taken to the Port Alberni residential school, she was raised by her grandmother and eldest sister.
Good recalls a horrific upbringing - abuse, suffering and never learning parts of her Snuneymuxw culture, such as the language, which her mother was beaten for speaking and feared passing on.
For many years, Good dealt with the trauma of her abusive upbringing with alcohol.
In 1987, she went to treatment, and decided to dedicate her life to the care of vulnerable Indigenous children, nearly half of whom are currently in foster care in Canada.
Good, now a team leader at Kwumut Lelum Child and Family Services Home, is one of many from the Snuneymuxw First Nation going to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission national event in Vancouver this week. She will attend in support of her sister Sarah, who has been in and out of recovery for her residential school traumas.
"I took the week off to basically support her through the process," Good said.
"Certainly I've seen the residual affects of what our people are faced with and having to find healing and recovery. All the aftermath of colonization."
Good will also be attending a kids in care panel, an issue she feels could start to resolve if traditional teachings were brought back.
"Even though we have nine member nations under the umbrella of Kuwut Lelum, we have 69 children that are in continuing care," she said.
"With the nine tribes, that's still a very high ratio for our population."
Good said, at 56 years old, a lot of things she once struggled with are starting to make sense, and she hopes to see others who have gone through direct or residual trauma find healing, at the TRC event or otherwise.
"I've definitely always wondered what makes our people tick," she said.
The TRC national event will be Sept. 18 to 21 at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, and is free to the public. Residential school survivors will tell their stories, and there will be film screenings, seminars, performances and more.
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