Ted Fontaine knows there are years he can never get back.
These are the years he spent suffering psychological and sexual abuse while attending Indian residential schools in Manitoba and those spent trying to make sense of what had happened in the aftermath.
Fontaine, who presented a reading from his bestselling book Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon tonight, says what happened to First Nations children within the residential school system continues to hurt the country as a whole.
“I feel sorry for Canada in that regard because they missed the opportunity to take advantage of some of our people’s capacity to be able to contribute in what we call Canada now,” he says.
He adds as difficult as it has been to remember what happened during his time within the Indian residential school system and put it into words, it has been absolutely necessary for his healing process and hopes it will help other survivors.
Fontaine, who is now 70, later returned to school and became chief of the Sagkeeng First Nation and executive director of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs amongst other accomplishments.
He also currently sits on the board of Peace Hills Trust.