Born to a single mother in Tonasket, Washington, Mary Lawrence was raised on the Vernon Indian Reserve at the head of Okanagan Lake where her grandmother was a full-blooded Okanagan. After a stint in residential school, she and her siblings were later placed in a series of dysfunctional and not-so-loving foster homes. After studying writing at the En'owkin Centre, she first published In Spirit & Song (1992). Mary Lawrence overcame residential school, addictions, spousal abuse and incarceration in a California correctional facility to also write My People, Myself (1997). "For the troubled young woman who drifted into places that left her depressed and suicidal,"; Lawrence wrote, "I honour her."; Her memoir was partially inspired by Beatrice Culleton's In Search of April Raintree, Shirley Sterling's My Name is Seepeetza and Celia Haig Brown's study of the Kamloops Residential School, Resistance and Renewal. She concludes her book by recalling her visit to the site of the Cranbrook Indian Residential School with her best friend Marge. "Thoughts and emotions flooded my body as I approached the large door. Then I felt the strongest emotional of all - RAGE! I visualized Sister Lois standing over me with her fat tummy bulging underneath her black habit as she held the strap with her right hand. I could see her round, fat face puffing up and getting ready to swing the strap upon me. I wanted to stomp on her shiny black shoes and run and hide."; In 1997 Lawrence was pleased to report she had been able to "abstain from getting involved in addictive relationships with the opposite sex"; for the past ten years. As of 2004, Mary Lawrence was living in Westbank, B.C., having raised her two daughters.


Lawrence, Mary. In Spirit & Song (Coburg, Ontario: Highway Book Shop, 1992).

Lawrence, Mary. My People, Myself (Caitlin, 1997).

[BCBW 2005]