FURNISS, Elizabeth




Author Tags: First Nations

The Williams Lake residential school opened in 1891, and was run by an order of the Roman Catholic Church. Three generations of children attended the school. In 1989, following disclosures of sexual abuse of students, the Cariboo tribal council initiated a project to assess the long term psychological and social impact of the residential school on their communities. Victims of Benevolence: Discipline and Death at the Williams Lake Residential School (Cariboo Tribal Council, 1994) by Elizabeth Furniss is one result of that research program. It studies the death of a runaway boy and the suicide of another boy at the school at the turn of the century. The two incidents serve as a microcosm of the profound impact the residential school system had on Aboriginal communities in Canada. "This booklet was written primarily for readers among the fifteen Shuswap, Carrier and Chilcotin communities of the Cariboo region of British Columbia," Furniss wrote.

Currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Calgary, Elizabeth Furniss, born in 1959, has worked as an Aboriginal rights and land claims advisor with the Cariboo Tribal Council and conducted extensive cultural and historical research with the Shuswap and Carrier nations. Her other books are Dakelh Keyoh: the Southern Carrier in Earlier Times, and Changing Ways: Southern Carrier History 1793-1940, plus Burden of History: Colonialism and the Frontier Myth in a Rural Canadian Community (UBC Press, 1999), mainly concerned with the Williams Lake area.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
The Burden of History: Colonialism and the Frontier Myth in a Rural Canadian Community
Victims of Benevolence: The Dark Legacy of the Williams Lake Residential School

BOOKS:

Furniss, Elizabeth. Dakelh Keyoh: the Southern Carrier in Earlier Times (Quesnel: Quesnel School District & the Kluskus, Nazko, Red Bluff and Ulkatcho Indian Bands, 1993).
Furniss, Elizabeth. Changing Ways: Southern Carrier History 1793-1940 (Quesnel: Quesnel School District & the Kluskus, Nazko, Red Bluff and Ulkatcho Indian Bands, 1993).
Furniss, Elizabeth. Victims of Benevolence: Discipline and Death at the Williams Lake Residential School (Cariboo Tribal Council, 1994).
Furniss, Elizabeth. Burden of History: Colonialism and the Frontier Myth in a Rural Canadian Community (UBC Press, 1999).

[BCBW 2004] "First Nations"

Victims of Benevolence (Cariboo Tribal Council)
Article



IN THE LAST FEW YEARS THE IMPACT OF the Indian residential school system has become the subject of much discussion both within First Nations communities and the media. Victims of Benevolence (Cariboo Tribal Council) by Elizabeth Furniss is a new study of government investigations into the care of students at the Williams Lake Indian residential school, focussing on the death of a runaway boy in 1902 and the suicide of a young boy in 1920. "This is the story of a young boy named Duncan Sticks. Duncan was born in 1893 into the family of Johnny Sticks at Alkali Lake. At a young age Duncan was taken to the Indian residential school near Williams Lake, British Columbia, where he spent the remaining years of his life. Duncan was unhappy at the school. When he was seven years old Duncan ran away from the school. That time he managed to make it back safely…to his family at Alkali Lake, some forty kilometres away. He was sick when he got home, and when he became healthy again his father returned him to the school. In February 1902, when he was eight years old, Duncan once again ran away from the school. He was outside, working under the supervision of a teacher, when he and eight other boys ran off. The others were caught, but Duncan disappeared into the woods. His body was found the next day by a local rancher. Duncan had died by the roadside thirteen kilometres from the school. This is also the story of a young boy named Augustine Allan from Canim Lake. Augustine committed suicide while at the residential school in the summer of 1920. He and eight other boys had made a suicide pact and had gathered together to eat poisonous water hemlock. Augustine died, but the other eight survived.
"Why did these boys die? What was happening at the Williams Lake residential school? Why were children running away, or attempting suicide?" 0-9696639-0-0

[BCBW, 1993] “First Nations”