`` Blood Memory `` By Bev Sellars

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Gregory Younging defines the concept of “blood memory as: “…the experiences of those that have gone before us are embedded in our physical and psychological being” (296). One does not have to be a “survivor” of the residential schools to be impacted by the institution; rather, “blood memory” is a collective experience that entails responsibility towards the victims and their families, notes Younging (297). Author Bev Sellars, in her memoir They Called Me Number One is an example of this notion. Throughout the memoir, Sellars is constantly surrounded by feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy, which the residential school instills in her. After leaving the Mission (residential school), she realizes the destructive influence of residential schools in the Indigenous community. The residential schools implanted a sense of inferiority in the Indigenous people. In Sellars memoir, this inferiority complex manifests throughout her life as continuous difficulties with isolation, displacement, and repression, delaying the restoration of her mental and physical health. It is when Sellars reconciles with her experiences through the concept of “blood memory” that she is able to abolish these negative forces and achieve personal agency. Isolation, in one way or another, was a common traumatic response from the residential school survivors, and Sellars was no exception. Sellars experiences isolation when she is separated from her family for ten months, every year, to attend the

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