Hot Best Seller

The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir

Availability: Ready to download

This memoir offers a courageous and intimate chronicle of life in a residential school. Now a retired fisherman and trapper, the author was one of an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children who were taken from their families and sent to government- funded, church-run schools, where they were subjected to a policy of “aggressive assimilation.” As Augie Mera This memoir offers a courageous and intimate chronicle of life in a residential school. Now a retired fisherman and trapper, the author was one of an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children who were taken from their families and sent to government- funded, church-run schools, where they were subjected to a policy of “aggressive assimilation.” As Augie Merasty recounts, these schools did more than attempt to mold children in the ways of white society. They were taught to be ashamed of their native heritage and, as he experienced, often suffered physical and sexual abuse. But, even as he looks back on this painful part of his childhood, Merasty’s sense of humour and warm voice shine through.


Compare

This memoir offers a courageous and intimate chronicle of life in a residential school. Now a retired fisherman and trapper, the author was one of an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children who were taken from their families and sent to government- funded, church-run schools, where they were subjected to a policy of “aggressive assimilation.” As Augie Mera This memoir offers a courageous and intimate chronicle of life in a residential school. Now a retired fisherman and trapper, the author was one of an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children who were taken from their families and sent to government- funded, church-run schools, where they were subjected to a policy of “aggressive assimilation.” As Augie Merasty recounts, these schools did more than attempt to mold children in the ways of white society. They were taught to be ashamed of their native heritage and, as he experienced, often suffered physical and sexual abuse. But, even as he looks back on this painful part of his childhood, Merasty’s sense of humour and warm voice shine through.

30 review for The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Neal Adolph

    I won't rate this book. I don't know what criteria to use. Do I judge it for its literary merits, as I do any other book I read? Yes, I suppose that is really the only option that I have. It is, after all, a book, like any other book that I have read, and so, like any other book I have read, it must be judged as a book. But this isn't a book so much as it is the sprouting life of a man who's childhood was affected by the systematic brutality of a failed education experiment exacted upon him becaus I won't rate this book. I don't know what criteria to use. Do I judge it for its literary merits, as I do any other book I read? Yes, I suppose that is really the only option that I have. It is, after all, a book, like any other book that I have read, and so, like any other book I have read, it must be judged as a book. But this isn't a book so much as it is the sprouting life of a man who's childhood was affected by the systematic brutality of a failed education experiment exacted upon him because his family, his race, his traditions, and his history were found to be offensive to the country which had stolen the land upon which he was raised. So I won't rate this book. I will recommend it though. It is sad and beautiful in the same moment, filled with a darkness and a joy balanced just enough to be effective on both sides of the spectrum without denying the existence of the opposite. And it is a pleasure to read, for the most part. Like a quiet story after another story. My only concern is that it, like most books which are so small, goes by too quickly. It could be read in an afternoon. That isn't to say that it should be read in an afternoon. It, and many others like it, many other books which struggle to make sense of the Canadian racist past to help us make sense of the racist present, should be taken up by Canadians, read through and memorized as though it were scripture commemorating dehumanization, and then, once it is read and memorized, it must be scribed out, word for word, as though you were a monk in the Middle Ages, dedicated to the reprinting and recreation of the Bible for new audiences. But you shouldn't do this for new audiences. You should do this for yourself. Because in a perfect world, where we all have time, we struggle with the realities of the past on a daily basis, and we open our minds and our hearts to the battles faced by those with less power than ourselves, and we find ways of reconciliation by understanding the tremulous impact of residential schools on the lives of hundreds of thousands of children. Hundreds of thousands of men and women sprouting in a school environment built on violence, abuse, and manipulation. A powerful book - one of many which recounts the experience of those who went through the residential school system, and one of many which should be required reading. There is no fiction here. There is only the horrifying truth of colonialism embarking upon its ultimate goal of destruction through assimilation. Read it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    Sainte Thérèse Residential School in Sturgeon Landing, Saskatchewan, where Augie Merasty was “educated.” “When I was at that school, it seemed always to be winter time. The days of that time always seem to have been colder.” In 2001, Augie Merasty, a retired Cree trapper in his early 70s, wrote a letter to the dean of the University of Saskatchewan. He wanted help with a memoir he was working on. More specifically, he wanted an outdoorsy person who enjoyed fishing, someone who had a tape recor Sainte Thérèse Residential School in Sturgeon Landing, Saskatchewan, where Augie Merasty was “educated.” “When I was at that school, it seemed always to be winter time. The days of that time always seem to have been colder.” In 2001, Augie Merasty, a retired Cree trapper in his early 70s, wrote a letter to the dean of the University of Saskatchewan. He wanted help with a memoir he was working on. More specifically, he wanted an outdoorsy person who enjoyed fishing, someone who had a tape recorder and a good command of the English language, to come to his cabin in the bush and record the stories of what he and his schoolmates had experienced at Ste. Thérèse Residential School. Augie’s request was passed on to David Carpenter, a former English professor, who had left teaching to become a full-time writer. As it turned out, Augie didn’t have a cabin at all. He sometimes lived with his daughter in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, but, consumed by alcoholism, he spent most of his later years homeless and on the streets. When Carpenter first spoke with him, he told Augie he could only be helpful if the memories were written down. Over the next several years, Augie sent his notes and stories in batches. All were written in his distinctive, flowing cursive. In the end, Carpenter had a total of about about 75 pages. Born in 1930, Merasty, like thousands of young aboriginal kids, had been forced into a residential school run by the Catholic Church. (The Anglican, Presbyterian, and United churches also ran Indian schools in Canada). As The Report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples notes, the first of what would become a network of schools was opened in 1849 in Ontario: “Church and government leaders had come to the conclusion that the problem (as they saw it) of Aboriginal independence and 'savagery' could be solved by taking children from their families at an early age and instilling the ways of the dominant society during eight or nine years of residential schooling far from home.” These institutions stayed open for over 150 years. Augie Merasty spent almost a decade at one located on the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border. From age five to age fourteen, he lived at Ste. Thérèse Residential School in Sturgeon Landing, about 300 miles (500 km) east of Prince Albert. At the time he first contacted the University of Saskatchewan, Augie had recently written testimony for the Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an organization founded in the 1990s “with a mandate of documenting the history and impacts of the residential school system.” In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2017, Augie’s co-author, David Carpenter, acknowledged the challenge in taking the “tatters of stories that sometimes had no ending to them” and putting them “all together in a sequence” while “try[ing] as hard as possible to preserve Augie's voice.” Augie’s education and capacity to write were limited, Carpenter said, but he had “a great storyteller's voice. And I didn't want to correct his English” and make him sound like someone other than himself. “I would only change the words on the page if he contradicted himself or if his limited ability with English obscured the meaning of what he was trying to get at." Carpenter fact-checked details with people who knew Augie and was reassured “that the core of the story, what happened to him at the school, was absolutely true." Names of people and places were changed to protect the identities of individuals and their families. Carpenter has done a remarkable job organizing Merasty’s material. The memoir begins, quite surprisingly, with Augie’s recollections of those religious fathers, brothers, and nuns who showed kindness to the children. There was his grade-one teacher, Sister St. Alphonse, “one of the kindest and most loving persons in that institution,” who played games with the boys. She cried when administering the mildest corporal punishment: taps of a ruler to the hands of disobedient boys. Sister St. Famille, the school’s baker, who knew only a few words of English, gave the kids something they never received at mealtimes: small, round loaves of bannock bread. “Big Brother Beauville,” who drove the team of horses and worked in the barn, was another “good guy,” never saying a mean word to any of the boys. In fact, they prayed for him after he was injured by a horse and required two months’ hospitalization in The Pas, some 40 miles away. Before the darkest memories of abuse are presented by the memoirist, he tells of other staff at Ste. Thérèse—not the good, the kind, and the jolly, but those whose failings Augie could nevertheless regard with some degree of warmth, humour, and even compassion. About these people, he observes: “They were all human beings, and they all had human feelings and weaknesses.” Take Brother Languir, for example: He’d come from Montreal and was teased by the older boys for his unfortunate, long chin. Languir had previously read some history about what Indians had done to whites, and he lived in fear of the boys at the school, regarding them as brutal savages. Not surprisingly, the kids played jokes on him, surrounding and poking him until he would suddenly burst from the circle, crying out and “running like the devil was after him.” Both Brother Languir and William “Scotty” Cameron, a Scottish bachelor employed by the school, also experienced the misfortune of unrequited love. They pined for beautiful Métis girls who were entirely beyond their reach. According to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission website, “The policy behind the government-funded, church-run schools attempted to ‘kill the Indian in the child’.” Merasty’s memoir makes clear that notions of racial superiority certainly fuelled those who worked at Ste. Thérèse. About his vile chief tormenter, Merasty observes: “Brother Lepeigne was a man dedicated to preserving the image of the Superiority of the Semi-Super Race of Whiteman over Indian, like the German Super Race tried to establish during the time of Hitler’s regime. As I look back, what was happening at the school was basically the same thing except on a smaller scale with the same principles.” The hypocrisy and toxicity of religion are regularly commented on by Merasty. He writes that when Bishop Lajeunesse visited the school, the children were dressed in their best clothing, made to perform concerts, and served food that was actually, and uncharacteristically, edible: beef stew, for example. However, during such visits the kids were also made to listen to the bishop hold forth about “how lucky we were to be looked after in such a school . . . and [how] we should be thankful to God and the administration for such blessings.” Merasty’s recollections are occasionally punctuated with a kind of astonishment that the bishop was never told about the terrible abuses so many of the children endured—in particular, Brother Lepeigne’s method of securing the silence of seven boys he had molested. For years, Lepeigne engaged in daily, ritual beatings of the boys, using a corrugated hose to whip them as they lay on their dormitory beds. Augie, one of the seven, estimated he’d received 500 to 600 of these beatings in his time at the school. Sister St. Mercy, “the meanest of all the nuns”—“I can’t say enough to vilify her name,” he writes— forced Augie and a friend to walk miles in sub-zero weather to retrieve lost mitts. When the boys returned without the mittens, she strapped them 20 times on each hand. Sister St. Mercy also used her strap on Augie’s face one night, damaging his left eye. All he’d been doing was talking and laughing in his sleep. She regularly made him and other boys kneel for hours on cold cement floors after the other children had gone to bed, and she even burned his hand during a lecture on disobedience so he’d know what the fires of hell felt like. Sister St. Mercy and her disciple, Sister St. Joy, “really enjoyed causing pain and other kinds of suffering as punishment for the smallest infractions.” Augie’s observation, “I always wondered why our keepers and teachers talked about Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and all the love they had for mankind [ . . . ] they never practiced what they preached, not one iota,” is the understatement of the century. It was his view that anyone who belonged to the order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate was “considered to be infallible . . . respected with unshakeable reverence, especially by my parents.” Even worse than the hypocrisy and the blind, undeserved respect, however, was the culture of silence. “If any of our teachers ever claimed that there was no evidence of sodomy in the school, they were lying. There is no doubt that these things were forced upon many of us at St. Therese in those days.” Merasty left Ste. Thérèse when he was 14. He felt as though he’d been sprung from prison. He writes that the hard lessons he learned there ensured that no one would ever again abuse him. However, what he’d experienced—endured—left him tremendously vulnerable to substance abuse. David Carpenter, who was instrumental in getting Augie’s powerful memoir published, acknowledges that “Augie was a nightmare of a father and a husband. He was a drunk, he was a sinner. And yet to me he feels like a real hero. A hero and a martyr. . . I think what was martyred there (at the residential school) was his innocence. . . yet because he got his story out and thousands of people are reading his story now, it’s almost as though there’s a bit of redemption at the end of his life.” The Education of Augie Merasty is a tiny book, only 76 pages long and a mere 4 ½ inches by 7 inches in size. It is an important historical document about “the abuse and terror in the lives of Indian children.” The testimony it delivers—in natural, unembellished language—is incredibly powerful. Augie Merasty died in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in February, 2017. He was 87.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    A very odd book to rate. Very small, no traditional narrative structure or style. It's an edited collection of letters and interviews smoothed out and turned into a single account of the Residential Schools. If anything, this is a book that will be studied. It's a primary source document rather than a commentary or history. It will be an exercise in oral history. It's a unique and valuable project that deserves to essential Canadian reading. In that sense, the book really is Augie's immortality.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)

    Now in his late 80s, Auguste Merasty was 5 when he entered a residential school for indigenous kids in northern Saskatchewan. During his years there, he endured and witnessed horrific abuse and racism, all sanctioned by the church and the government. The point of the schools was to teach the Indian out of the kids, assimilate them. Canada's shame. My former English prof, David Carpenter, helped him write these important memoirs. Heartbreaking.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

    RATING: 3 STARS (I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.) (Not On Blog) I picked this book up at the library as I have always been interested in knowing more about Aboriginal culture. Growing up in Canada, we did hear about Residential schools and the horrors behind it. It was not long in the history that this happened, and like other race and cultural atrocities it seems unimaginable that this is reality. This is a really short book, and that was one of the reasons I RATING: 3 STARS (I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.) (Not On Blog) I picked this book up at the library as I have always been interested in knowing more about Aboriginal culture. Growing up in Canada, we did hear about Residential schools and the horrors behind it. It was not long in the history that this happened, and like other race and cultural atrocities it seems unimaginable that this is reality. This is a really short book, and that was one of the reasons I did not give this book a higher rating. I felt like you got a snippet of a story and are longing to know more context. It feels like a found diary. What worked for me was that it was told by a survivor and that it is such an important story to share. You can't put a rating on an experience, but despite this being a short book, the impact is vast. It is not an easy read...and that is a great thing as it does make you uncomfortable in a good way. You should be upset over what Augie and his peers went through.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Djj

    I want to be very clear: this book has two sections. The plainly told, and the more horrifying for it, memoir of Augie Merasty's time in a residential school in the 1930s. And a lengthy introduction and brief coda by the editor, David Carpenter. Merasty's section, edited by Carpenter is heart wrenching, though everything is recounted in a straight forward voice. This I give 5 stars. Carpenter's introduction is terrible. I think he's trying to give some indication of how Merasty's childhood exper I want to be very clear: this book has two sections. The plainly told, and the more horrifying for it, memoir of Augie Merasty's time in a residential school in the 1930s. And a lengthy introduction and brief coda by the editor, David Carpenter. Merasty's section, edited by Carpenter is heart wrenching, though everything is recounted in a straight forward voice. This I give 5 stars. Carpenter's introduction is terrible. I think he's trying to give some indication of how Merasty's childhood experiences affected the rest of his life, but it's mostly relayed in terms of how inconvenient and difficult Merasty was to work with. It's just silly. And Carpenter clearly did not interview any of his family. In an interview on the CBC Carpenter mentioned he did not know the ending of a particular story involving Merasty running into one of his abusers in The Pas; in the same program the interviewer asked Merasty's daughter about it and she knew the answer, no problem. For what could be an important record, the editing just feels lazy. But he's an editor, you say, not a story teller? Ok then, why is more than a third of the book about him? Sheesh. This section gets 1 star. My advice: skip the intro, and just read the heart of this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    R K

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I cannot put a rating on someone’s life. It’s their life, how can you give it a rating? This book is one of the only books where the Introduction and Conclusion are the important parts of the novel. That’s due to the fact that we, through these parts, see the impacts that residential schooling had on the Aboriginal community. Everyone suffers in their own way, but none come unharmed. Review Continued Here I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I cannot put a rating on someone’s life. It’s their life, how can you give it a rating? This book is one of the only books where the Introduction and Conclusion are the important parts of the novel. That’s due to the fact that we, through these parts, see the impacts that residential schooling had on the Aboriginal community. Everyone suffers in their own way, but none come unharmed. Review Continued Here

  8. 5 out of 5

    MeggieBree

    Wow. This book is so important, and I think it should be required reading in schools. It breaks my heart that I never learned about residential schools until I was in my mid-twenties.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    An important memoir. I'm grateful to Merasty for his courage to tell his story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marita

    I give this book five stars not because I enjoyed it, or because of the writing. I give it five stars as a salute to Augie Merasty for the courage it took to share the story of the immense abuse he suffered during his years at residential school in Canada. I knew nothing about the horrors of residential schools or the Sixties Scoop until a few months ago. This book, heartbreaking as it is, is important because it brings into the open vile crimes committed against young innocent children like Aug I give this book five stars not because I enjoyed it, or because of the writing. I give it five stars as a salute to Augie Merasty for the courage it took to share the story of the immense abuse he suffered during his years at residential school in Canada. I knew nothing about the horrors of residential schools or the Sixties Scoop until a few months ago. This book, heartbreaking as it is, is important because it brings into the open vile crimes committed against young innocent children like Augie that were otherwise hidden in darkness. It was Augie's wish that by leading the way in sharing his story, other survivors would come forward with their own stories. I think this is important because for so long these people have been ignored, overlooked or accused of lying. Their stories should be heard and validated and every effort made to provide help and resources for healing.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carla (Carla's Book Bits)

    ABOUT: As a Cree native, Augie Merasty was sent to a residential school run by French priests and nuns. This book is about his most lasting experiences there, and it's probably just a small part of a rarely-talked-about but dark part of Canadian history. Its implications still stretch out to today. This book, like every book, isn't perfect. You will feel like the story is a little bit incomplete after reading all 90 pages, and the introduction fully explains that it is technically an unfinished b ABOUT: As a Cree native, Augie Merasty was sent to a residential school run by French priests and nuns. This book is about his most lasting experiences there, and it's probably just a small part of a rarely-talked-about but dark part of Canadian history. Its implications still stretch out to today. This book, like every book, isn't perfect. You will feel like the story is a little bit incomplete after reading all 90 pages, and the introduction fully explains that it is technically an unfinished book (circumstances explained). But I'm still giving this 5 stars because what we have of this story is powerful. It's important. I'm glad I found this book on my library display and took a leap by reading it. I hope it's only part of the beginning steps towards change.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Klassen

    How do I even rate a testimonial of genocide? And yet it must be done. I wish there was more reflective, retrospective thinking on Augie's part; I would have gotten more out of this memoir if he touched on how this affected him more, how it changed his life. This is written mostly as a description of average life in a residential school, as well as detailing some of the sexual and physical abuse endured by the boys and girls at that school. This makes sense as the memoir is the product of legal How do I even rate a testimonial of genocide? And yet it must be done. I wish there was more reflective, retrospective thinking on Augie's part; I would have gotten more out of this memoir if he touched on how this affected him more, how it changed his life. This is written mostly as a description of average life in a residential school, as well as detailing some of the sexual and physical abuse endured by the boys and girls at that school. This makes sense as the memoir is the product of legal documents and testimonials given to the TRC's prototype. The Introduction and Conclusion shed light on how long and hard Augie worked on his life story. They also helped with Carpenter's piecing together of the man behind the words, Carpenter's hero. This is a beautiful edition, small and beautiful in its simplicity. That mitten called to me on the shelf, that lonely symbol of a child. As a white settler-subject, it is my duty to listen when survivors of residential schools bear witness to their traumatic experiences. I'm so thrilled that these memoirs are being published when survivors are interested in publishing. That gives me hope that there is an audience for healing, for reconciliation.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Zoë

    This was exactly what I was looking for—a powerful and important residential school memoir. I suspect I'll reread it in the future. I was glad that Merasty got to see his book published before he died, and I just wish the editor had been as determined to track him down and hear his story over the decade that they corresponded as he was to track him down and get the final contract signed. Merasty's obituary is also worth the read. This was exactly what I was looking for—a powerful and important residential school memoir. I suspect I'll reread it in the future. I was glad that Merasty got to see his book published before he died, and I just wish the editor had been as determined to track him down and hear his story over the decade that they corresponded as he was to track him down and get the final contract signed. Merasty's obituary is also worth the read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Short but hits the heart hard. Great work between Augie's writing with David Carpenter's intro and afterword and getting this amazing story out there. Personally I feel more connected to what was really going on at the residential schools now. The abruptness and honesty of Augie's collections is powerful and moving as he shows very little hate (mostly disgust) towards those who were really cruel and sick to him and others. Only a small handful does Augie explain are the cruelest of humans and ex Short but hits the heart hard. Great work between Augie's writing with David Carpenter's intro and afterword and getting this amazing story out there. Personally I feel more connected to what was really going on at the residential schools now. The abruptness and honesty of Augie's collections is powerful and moving as he shows very little hate (mostly disgust) towards those who were really cruel and sick to him and others. Only a small handful does Augie explain are the cruelest of humans and explains their actions similar to Hitler. The acts these leaders, mentors, caregivers were committing are unforgettable and unforgivable. I appreciate this story being shared to enlighten more folk on the mistreatment of FNIM people. Maarsii.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Orenda

    A very short snippet of the horrors that many Aboriginal children suffered during their time in Residential School. What this book highlights for us is the varying degrees of abuse that existed, and that while so many abusers worked in the system, there were many guilty of another crime - other priests and nuns knowing about and allowing the abuse to continue. The book doesn't engage in the fetishizing of RS survivors. You won't hear all the gory details of abuse. But you should be horrified by A very short snippet of the horrors that many Aboriginal children suffered during their time in Residential School. What this book highlights for us is the varying degrees of abuse that existed, and that while so many abusers worked in the system, there were many guilty of another crime - other priests and nuns knowing about and allowing the abuse to continue. The book doesn't engage in the fetishizing of RS survivors. You won't hear all the gory details of abuse. But you should be horrified by just the hinting of them, which is exactly what Augie does. A beautifully written tragic memoir.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karly

    This was a tricky one to rate...what this man lived through was absolutely horrendous and in that respect I give him 10 stars for having the strength to share his stories. I am basing this rating on what I got out of it as someone interested in learning about our country's past, the good and the bad. Augie wrote letters about his experience in Canada's Residential School and sent them to David, who compiled them, with some light editing, into this book. David also wrote an Introduction and an Af This was a tricky one to rate...what this man lived through was absolutely horrendous and in that respect I give him 10 stars for having the strength to share his stories. I am basing this rating on what I got out of it as someone interested in learning about our country's past, the good and the bad. Augie wrote letters about his experience in Canada's Residential School and sent them to David, who compiled them, with some light editing, into this book. David also wrote an Introduction and an Afterword to tie everything together. It was well written by both Augie and David and I commend them for being able to write this story together despite being very far away from each other with little to no communication at times.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    It's a book Canadians need to read. It's short. It's got an authentic voice. Take a minute and expand your perspective.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mj

    The Education of Augie Merasty is a memoir written by a homeless, octogenarian Cree native while living in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan with the assistance of co-aurhor David Carpenter. Merasty provided his co-author with approximately one hundred pages of handwritten notes that Merasty submitted to Carpenter in spurts. Sometimes Carpenter was able to speak with Merasty by telephone but there were long periods when Merasty was in the bush and Carpenter had no idea if he was still alive. Merasty at The Education of Augie Merasty is a memoir written by a homeless, octogenarian Cree native while living in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan with the assistance of co-aurhor David Carpenter. Merasty provided his co-author with approximately one hundred pages of handwritten notes that Merasty submitted to Carpenter in spurts. Sometimes Carpenter was able to speak with Merasty by telephone but there were long periods when Merasty was in the bush and Carpenter had no idea if he was still alive. Merasty attended St. Therese Residential School in the community of Sturgeon Landing, Manitoba, from 1935 to 1944. This is the period his memoir focuses on. When I was reading Merasty’s memoir if felt like Augie was “telling” me a story. It seemed very much like a narrative, as is quite common in native oral story telling tradition. Overall Augie was very positive and generous is giving kudos where kudos were due. Despite the hardships he had endured, Augie spoke out primarily about only a few and very few, nasty people who were supposedly caregivers. Merasty sounded and seemed very hopeful. Based on his co-writer’s comments, it sounds like Merasty wanted to take part in the collecting of information from first Nations people, Metis and Innut about their residential school experiences. He wanted what he shared to be believed. To do this he focused on the most critical issues and the worst offenders while giving credit to the good things that took place during that time. He’d been inspired to write after the Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation and of the Exploratory Dialogues took place in the late 1990s. Over a period of eight years, by letter and telephone and rarely in person, Carpenter, Merasty’s co-author felt that Merasty felt compelled to tell his story and that he thought if he didn’t he would have wasted his life. Merasty thought that his memoir would be his immortality. Some have raised concerns about Merasty’s credence as a narrator, primarily because of his history of alcoholism and have used the term unreliable narrator when wondering about the value of his book. I happen to dislike the term unreliable narrator because when anyone is talking or writing about their own personal experiences, since each of us has personal filters (that’s what makes each of us unique) each of us will see and experience life in our own way. Others, who have different filters and experiences, may have a different remembering and therefore consider us an unreliable narrator. However, who is better to write a memoir about a life than the person who actually lived the life? And when you think about it, how could anyone be unreliable about their own narrative unless they were deliberately lying? And what is the likelihood that anyone would want to make themselves suffer by making up and speaking or writing about such painful circumstances as Merasty does, if it wasn’t true or if they didn’t believe it to be true? Let’s be realistic. When you are very young and people cause you significant pain, a self-defense mechanism is to zone out and disassociate. It is a coping mechanism and should be respected. What any child experiences should be valued. On the back flap of the book there’s a reproduction of a wonderful 2013 acrylic painting of Merasty called I am a Writer, part of the Homeless Series by Kathie Bird. On the front cover these comments “Even as he looks back on this painful part of his childhood, Merasty’s sense of humour and warm voice shine through.” I’m really glad I read this book. Merasty shared important information and I felt he did so in as honest and upbeat a way as was possible given the circumstances. Carpenter also deserves a big thank you for seeing that Merasty’s story was written in a book format, using Merasty’s own words and then having it published and made widely accessible to the public. 2 stars for the book primarily due to its brevity and simplicity. 5 stars for the heart and tone of the story tellers. Here’s an article in the Globe and Mail that provides more information about the men and lives behind this book. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/b...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I chose to read this book because the Lib Ed folks at the U of L decided that it was going to be the university's 'book of the year' - that as many faculty as possible should incorporate into their classes this year. It's not even remotely connected to my discipline, but I decided to read it anyway. One of the 'selling' features they used to promote this book to us was that it was short. And it is certainly very short. Minus the introduction and conclusion, there are about 50 very small pages of I chose to read this book because the Lib Ed folks at the U of L decided that it was going to be the university's 'book of the year' - that as many faculty as possible should incorporate into their classes this year. It's not even remotely connected to my discipline, but I decided to read it anyway. One of the 'selling' features they used to promote this book to us was that it was short. And it is certainly very short. Minus the introduction and conclusion, there are about 50 very small pages of text. Which is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. But it may be relevant to some readers, so it's worth noting. At it's core, this book is a memoir - a series of brief stories (some of them quite horrifying) about life at a residential school - told by a former pupil who was in his midseventies at the time of the writing. If you're not already familiar with what happened at residential schools, it's an important thing to learn about, and this book (or any other like it) would likely shock you. I appreciated the structure of the book. We start off with the story of how Augie reached out to his editor, an English professor, and the rather long drawn out process of him convincing the professor to help him tell his story as well as the process via which the book was written (as a series of passages written out of order, some of them retold multiple times; the professor's job was essentially to organize and compile; Augie did the writing). Then we start with what fond memories Augie had of nuns and priests who were actually doing what they were supposed to be doing - loving the children and looking after them. After that, we are introduced, one chapter at a time, to a number of horrid nuns, brothers and priests who abused the children, some physically and some sexually. While the cover talks about how the children were taught to reject their own culture, the text itself doesn't really talk about that at all. I don't recall any passages about the actual teachings at the school. So, while I understand that that did indeed happen, the book feels a little incomplete without addressing it. I suspect it would have been hard to find a logical place for it - and I suspect Augie was more interested in telling other stories - but I feel like it would have improved the book. After all of the stories Augie wrote have been told, the book finishes with the story of the professor tracking him down in order to sign the agreements required to get the book published. The introduction and conclusion do a nice job of framing the story by helping us get to know at least a little about the man doing the writing - not just the boy at school. All in all, I tend to prefer books with more character development than this one featured - but I do understand why it is an important book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Debut author Joseph Augustus 'Augie' Merasty is in his mid 80's and often living on the streets, despite offers of shelter from family, battling alcoholism, cancer and other health challenges. He approached the University of Saskatchewan to work with a scribe to document his experiences at St Therese Residential School from 1935-1944 (ages 5-14). Through letters and phone calls to Professor David Carpenter, Augie acknowledges Brothers and Sisters who were kind and caring but also abuses of power Debut author Joseph Augustus 'Augie' Merasty is in his mid 80's and often living on the streets, despite offers of shelter from family, battling alcoholism, cancer and other health challenges. He approached the University of Saskatchewan to work with a scribe to document his experiences at St Therese Residential School from 1935-1944 (ages 5-14). Through letters and phone calls to Professor David Carpenter, Augie acknowledges Brothers and Sisters who were kind and caring but also abuses of power and cruelty of others. "I was once made to walk about twenty miles in -40f weather with fellow student, Abner Joseph, back to where we'd walked the day before....just because we lost one mitten each. We were very nervous and scared all the way, as we were only eleven or twelve years old at the time. We came back without the lost mittens as the wind and snow had covered everything that could be lost. We, of course, got the strap, twenty strokes on both hands". His testimonial was also used as evidence for the TRC. A shocking, heartbreaking and important read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Randonn

    The book itself, written by Augie Merasty, is heartbreaking, and important, and I'm glad to have read it. The introduction, written by David Carpenter, is another thing. It so put me off I actually had to put the book down for a few days before I could continue. Reading about Carpenter's repeated attempts to contact Mr. Merasty and get him to send more of the manuscript I couldn't stop thinking that it would have ultimately been easier and quicker for Carpenter to go visit Mr. Merasty, listen to The book itself, written by Augie Merasty, is heartbreaking, and important, and I'm glad to have read it. The introduction, written by David Carpenter, is another thing. It so put me off I actually had to put the book down for a few days before I could continue. Reading about Carpenter's repeated attempts to contact Mr. Merasty and get him to send more of the manuscript I couldn't stop thinking that it would have ultimately been easier and quicker for Carpenter to go visit Mr. Merasty, listen to him tell his story and have it transcribed, as Mr. Merasty wanted. It was sort of infuriating that he just...refused. Carpenter then closes out the introduction with a few completely tone deaf paragraphs about how he hopes First Nation and Metis writers will some day feel comfortable attending a writer's retreat at an abbey in Muenster, SK. Not the time, not the place. My suggestion is to read the book first, then the introduction, then the afterword.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kindra

    While this book is short and the preface takes up about half of the text, it is just as important to this story and Augie's account. The writer who pieced together Augie's story tells of Augie's current struggles and who he has become in his life, while Augie's letters serve to tell his story of the residential school as a child. It's sad and heartbreaking but made me want to read more on this subject. I read Up Ghost River right afterwards and it is so similar to Augie's story and yet more in d While this book is short and the preface takes up about half of the text, it is just as important to this story and Augie's account. The writer who pieced together Augie's story tells of Augie's current struggles and who he has become in his life, while Augie's letters serve to tell his story of the residential school as a child. It's sad and heartbreaking but made me want to read more on this subject. I read Up Ghost River right afterwards and it is so similar to Augie's story and yet more in depth and expanded upon like you want The Education of Augie Merasty to be. It's important for us Canadians to know our own history and what has been done to the native population in our country. We can have deep down harboured feelings of prejudice but we need to take a look what has been done to their people and what has been taken from them.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristie Saumure

    A sad story (obviously)...but I think its greatest impact comes from how Augie was able to separate the good from the bad at the residential schools. To hear him speak fondly of certain Sisters and Brothers makes his voicing of the atrocities done by the others seem even more vivid. It is a credit to Augie's character that he is able to separate the good from the bad in such a horrific environment. This book is well worth reading as it provides a perspective on residential schools from someone w A sad story (obviously)...but I think its greatest impact comes from how Augie was able to separate the good from the bad at the residential schools. To hear him speak fondly of certain Sisters and Brothers makes his voicing of the atrocities done by the others seem even more vivid. It is a credit to Augie's character that he is able to separate the good from the bad in such a horrific environment. This book is well worth reading as it provides a perspective on residential schools from someone who experienced the schools' cruelties.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Morrigan Coady

    A beautiful heart-breaking book. Though it is very short it is very important. An interesting POV of a history that is only starting to be told. I would highly recommend this to anyone, but especially to my fellow Canadians. This little book takes you deep into the mind of Augie Merasty and you definitely won't look at Canadian history the same after reading this.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jbondandrews

    An amazingly brutally honest book. Even though it is short it conveys more than enough. Even though his family had suffered they seemed to think it necessary to send Augie to the same school. Such an awful and terrible thing for the First Nations to have suffered such dreadful abuse.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    This book opened my eyes and gave me a look into the past. A past and part of Canada that is disgusting and makes my heart sad. More people need to be taught about this and shown what atrocities happened in the past to the First Nations peoples. This tiny book is quite a powerful read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Scott

    I think his was/is an important read, sadly it was poorly written.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

    A thoroughly disturbing and honest account of residential schools... There is no excuse for what happened to those people.

  29. 5 out of 5

    writer...

    Appalling stories of abusive treatment of children entrusted to the care of church run schools in northern Canadian areas of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

    This is one of those books that's really hard to rate, because on the one hand the story is part of a hugely important (and not often enough talked about) area of Canadian history...but on the other hand, the book doesn't do all that much to set itself apart as a literary gem. I think that when I picked it up, I was hoping that its slim size would herald some kind of spare, elegant prose; the reality is rather more complicated. The Education of Augie Merasty is a work of collaboration. As co-auth This is one of those books that's really hard to rate, because on the one hand the story is part of a hugely important (and not often enough talked about) area of Canadian history...but on the other hand, the book doesn't do all that much to set itself apart as a literary gem. I think that when I picked it up, I was hoping that its slim size would herald some kind of spare, elegant prose; the reality is rather more complicated. The Education of Augie Merasty is a work of collaboration. As co-author David Carpenter describes in the introduction, Merasty wrote to the University of Saskatchewan (where Carpenter had ties) to request the help of an English professor in writing his memoirs of his time at a residential school. Carpenter agreed to work on the project, but on his own schedule and terms: rather than go up to speak with Merasty and get his story and put it into writing, he asked that Merasty write down his story and send it to Carpenter, who would revise and organise and so on. Thus began an on-and-off partnership that lasted, from the sounds of it, for years, with Carpenter waiting for more of Merasty's fractured writing and occasionally trying by phone or mail to track him down. I'm left with a sort of unpleasant sense of how the project went down. Carpenter had no personal obligation to Merasty, of course (except that he'd agreed to take on this project), but I wonder how the manuscript might have been different, and what other material might have been included, had he worked a bit more on Merasty's terms/turf. Five years after Carpenter had last heard from Merasty, he submitted what he calls 'my manuscript' (65) for publication and went looking for Merasty to get his formal permission to publish, and I don't understand why this was what it took for him to seek out Merasty in person. I suspect that, with more direction (and direct questioning), this could have been a more structured, conventional memoir. Does it need to be? Well, no. There are others. There's value in simply adding voices to the testimony of 'this happened to me and this happened to my people'. This ends up being a voice in that litany: a story of abuse after abuse, physical and emotional and sexual abuse. Merasty's stories often focus on one nun or priest, his captors at the residential school, and the ways in which they did or did not abuse their charges. I wonder: what was his life like at home? What was his family like? What was the daily routine at the school? Was there any effort to educate the children kept there? Under what circumstances did Merasty leave the school, and what happened then? What about the other children? What about these nuns and priests, and how did they go from presumably well-intentioned so-called servants of god to these roles as captors? These aren't all questions that had to be answered here, but I'm left feeling that there was much more here left to be said. It's a useful part of a terribly sad history, but not one that can easily stand on its own.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.