Mabel Harry Fontaine

THE INTERVIEWER: Mabel, could you say and spell your first and last name.
MABEL HARRY-FONTAINE: My name is Mabel, M-a-b-e-l; Harry,
H-a-r-r-y slash Fontaine, F-o-n-t-a-i-n-e.
Q. And where are you from?
A. Fort Alexander, Manitoba, the Reservation which is now known as Saugeen First Nations.
Q. And which school did you attend
A. Fort Alexander Residential School.
Q. Do you know what years you were there?
A. I say 1953 to ’60.
Q. So seven years?
A. Seven years.
Q. How old were you when you first went to the school?
A. Seven.
Q. Do you remember the first day of school?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. Can you tell us about that?
A. My mom and dad took me to this big huge building. We went in by the front part. I was clinging to my mom, her dress, as usual. That’s how I always used to follow here around, just hanging onto her dress.
When we went in the office was on the right side and there was another one on the left. It was super clean, a huge, cold, dark building. And there was a Priest in there and a Nun and my mom and dad were talking with them but I didn’t understand them. I just knew my language, Ojibway. I tried to ask my mom what was going on because I was puzzled. I didn’t know why they brought me there. All they said was (speaking Native language) “to go and be taught”. That’s how you would translate that. I’m trying to ask my mom and tugging at her dress, trying to get her attention to ask her in my own language what we’re doing there. And then I seen —
That was my first encounter with a Nun. She looked really strict. She went like this (indicating) to me, like that. Right off the bat there I couldn’t speak my language. So I kept quiet and I guess that was registration. The rest is a blur. I didn’t understand those Nuns or the Priest.
They looked scary to me. They just looked scary. Maybe I thought it was Halloween, or something. They just had a costume on. But they never took those costumes off. They always dressed the same with a big white stiff collar here (indicating) and a big stiff —
We never got to see their hair. And long veils, long black dresses. Some of them were fat and some of them were short and some of them were tall and skinny. Some of them had glasses on. All of them were White. And the Priests, the same with the Priests, the same outfit except they had big crosses on. Some of the Nuns had crosses on, or beads, the rosary, a big long rosary. And none of them smiled.
I didn’t know how to communicate except with my language. And then I heard two different —
They spoke English and French, I guess that was.
Right off the bat they screwed up my name. My name is Mabel Angela. They called me Mabel Angel. For a long long time that bothered me, right into my adulthood. They didn’t say my name right. But I couldn’t tell them because they didn’t understand me.
Q. So did they mispronounce your name the whole time at the school?
A. Yeah. And the kids started calling me that because they knew I didn’t like it. You know how kids are. They can be so cruel. Well, they were cruel to me. They didn’t bother saying “Mabel”, they used to say “Angel”, and that made me mad.
I survived somehow. I spoke my language. I must have been a stubborn kid. I knew I was a little bit spoiled but not spoiled rotten at home. I wish —
English words.
I wish there was an interpreter here. It would be better if I talked about it in my own language.
Q. Do you want to talk about some things in Ojibway and you can also tell us what it means in English?
A. Yeah. It will take longer.
Q. It’s up to you, whatever you’re comfortable with.
A. Um-hmm.
Q. The only problem is I don’t understand Ojibway so I wouldn’t be able to ask you questions that are involved with what you say. But if we have it on tape there will be somebody who can translate it.
A. I used to speak my language anyway, with the other girls. I even know the places outside, when we were playing outside, where the Nun was far away. I still spoke my language. I remember under the stairs, the stairway, you know the stairs where there’s a space. I remember speaking my language there every chance I got. And in the washroom. But it was like a jail. That’s what we called it; a jail. They were not too far away, the Nuns, but I’m thankful. That’s what I keep thinking. I must have been a stubborn kid.
They took away a lot from me but they could not take that away.
(Speaking Ojibway) Still yet today I speak my language and somehow I get a satisfaction out of that, that they couldn’t take it away from me because they tried. Gawd, did they ever try. Every day. And I had to fight that.
Q. So maintaining your language and still knowing it after you left the school, did that feel like a victory for you?
A. Yeah, that’s the word I’m looking for. When I tell my grandchildren I say it in a way they don’t understand. I tell them I jarred them because that’s how they talk, children nowadays. I’m bringing up my grandchildren, three of them.
Q. Do they speak Ojibway?
A. No. They understand, my children understand, Geraldine understands me, Terrance understands me and my deceased boy used to understand me. He used to try to speak it lots.
Q. So how did you learn English?
A. I damn well had to in there. I had to communicate in the class. Everywhere it was English or French. So I damn well had to.
Q. You were saying in your first few days they mispronounced your name, you didn’t know how to speak English and you weren’t allowed to speak your language, so how do you start to learn English? Do you just pick up words here and there, or —
A. I was young enough, I guess, yeah.
Q. Did the other kids help you out?
A. A lot of White people do that when they come into our communities. You don’t even have to teach them, some of them, they pick it up. I had to learn it in school, for school, for prayers. We used to always pray. We used to always go to the chapel. We used to always go to church.
In each place there was always a ruler, a big long ruler because we had to look straight ahead all the time and not turn around. If we did we got smacked on the head with a ruler. They were guards. They weren’t Nuns, they were guards.
I always wondered what kind of upbringing they were given. There certainly couldn’t have been love there. When you work for God you have to be a loving person. You know, I can’t remember a kind Nun in there. They were all mean in one way or another. I was just thinking they were so mean.
I’ve always been that way. I feel sorry for others more than myself. I used to feel sorry for the ones that had bladder problems and they would wet the bed every night. I thought they were educated when I think about it now. Didn’t they know that there was something wrong with them, why they wet their bed every night and they never took them to the hospital to get them checked out? Where were their brains? That’s the ones I felt sorry for because in the morning they were made to clean their beds and walk around with the wet sheets over their heads and parade around. There must have been about five or six of them every morning, parade around in front of everybody to shame them, to make them stop peeing their bed. That’s the ones I felt sorry for.
Q. And there were kids that happened to every day?
A. Every morning, yeah, because they had weak bladders, I don’t know. If you got up during the night you had to go and ask permission to use the washroom. They didn’t wake up. They just slept through it and pee’d their beds. There was definitely something wrong with their bladders. Anyways, that’s the ones I felt really sorry for. Holy mackerel.
The next day they are teased, you know, by other kids. I don’t remember ever doing that. I had good teachings at home. I knew that was a mean thing to do so I don’t remember ever making fun of them.
You know what was the highlight? When kids ran away, when girls ran away and they got caught they were brought back and of course they got a strap. Some of them would fight back, would fight the Nuns. That’s what the highlight was. We were all pulling for them to take the veil off because I remember always being curious how they looked without that veil. Are they bald? Do they have hair? Because I don’t remember ever seeing hair at all. That band was just right around here (indicating) like that.
By highlight I mean it was exciting. We wanted those girls that fought back to pull the veil off. That’s probably why it was tight so nobody could pull it off. We wanted to see what they looked like.
Q. Did anybody ever get the veil off?
A. I think so, yeah, but I wasn’t there to see it. I never got to see one without a veil or a bonnet, whatever they called it.
Q. I think if you see these same people all the time, always in the same outfit and never see their hair, all you see is their face and their hands, you start to wonder if they’re even human or, you know, like your mind must really wonder about that.
A. I thought it was Halloween and they were dressed up.
I remember there was this joke about a Nun. That was probably after we got out of the boarding school. It’s silly but it just came to my mind. The joke was what’s goes black and white, black and white, black and white?
Q. What.
A. A Nun tumbling down the stairs, because that was the colour of their clothing. (Laughter) Black and white. We made some fun of them, too.
I thought I was going to breeze through this. It’s the first time I ever had an upset stomach and a headache.
Q. I think you’re doing fine.
A. I remember the sewing class. We had to take Home Ec., and cooking and all that stuff. I remember Sister Cecile was her name. She was fat. She had big man hands. We had to knit. For a long time the first thing I learned was knit pearl, knit pearl, knit pearl, you know. She was scary. I was scared of her hands. Your brains rattled if she ever hit you on the back of the head. That was one scary one.
One was tall and skinny. She was in the gym. She was in the Play Room they called it, not the gym. That must have been the most relaxed one I’ve ever seen there. Because if you want to skate, if you want to go sliding, those were fun things and that’s probably why I remember her. She must have been the only Nun that ever looked I wouldn’t say happy, but more relaxed, more like human.
There were so many Nuns there for each different activity or subject. I don’t remember all their names. I think this sports one was Sister Victor.
Q. So do you think that the only adult women you see all the time being so cold and emotionless had an effect on you and how you were with people after leaving the school?
A. Of course! After coming from my home, like I was just snatched from a happy place to a deadly place. There was so much floors, there was so much floors and we were kept away, kept away from our brothers, from the boys.
But I think the meanest one of them all was —
His name was Brother Lacoste (ph.). He was bald and he had a wart somewhere here (indicating) and there (indicating). He was a pig. He was a kokooish (ph.). But he also had lots of candy. That’s how he got me. Candy was very very scarce there, maybe two or three times a year we had it. He had candy all the time in his big long gown pockets. He would come in the Play Room with his hands in his pockets.
That’s how he got me to go close to him and sit on his lap while he played with me where his hands are not supposed to be, on my arse, on my vagina. He was gross. He was a fat fat dysfunctional human being. And he did that to lots of little girls. He took my virginity with his finger, of all things.
Later on in life when I started going with boys I was wondering because after you get to learn a lot, eh. My friends, boys, would say, “Did you get your cherry bust yet?” What the fuck is that? I didn’t know what that was. What’s he talking about? What does that mean?
Meanwhile —
And then I heard the word virgin. I thought I was a virgin. When I finally started going out and I didn’t have blood when I had sex, that means no issue of blood when I had sex for the very first time. And then I got angry, I guess, and hurt and what the hell, you know. What the hell is going on? I didn’t understand. Back then we were so innocent.
I forget how many sessions I’ve been in with Mel and Shirley. Every time I go something comes out of my mouth, something pops in my brain, and all this reverts back to the boarding school, never ever at home. Never. I was protected there. I was taken from there. I got used, abused, called down.
That calling down is a big thing. You should never call little ones down because they’ll believe it. I believed it. I know what I’m capable of but there’s that fear. I don’t do it. I don’t go for it. I’m scared of rejection and failure because I’m no good, even though I’ve got an education. I work at CFS. You ask my bosses over there. I don’t do what I’m capable of. I’ve got all these certificates. I can’t back them up. That’s probably why I don’t put them up on the wall.
Hey, I just thought about that. That’s why I don’t show them off because they’re there. I succeeded at the time I was taking those courses, focusing therapy, post-traumatic, you name it, all that. When you get right down to the job I can’t do it because I was told a long time ago I was stupid and I couldn’t do it.
At work I started off as Support and then I went to Intake and then I went to Frontline and back to Support again.
Q. How long have you been doing that kind of work?
A. Since she (indicating another person in the room) was a little girl. She’s thirty-four now, thirty-three. Thirty-four. Since Geraldine was thirty —
I used to leave them to get training, training, training. And then one day I finally got a job. I couldn’t even —
(Speaking native language) I knew what to do from all this training but I didn’t do it. I was afraid.
Q. What do you think you were afraid of?
A. Of failure! Because —
I wish I knew how to say that in English. I had all this training. I had high marks. I passed every time. When it came right down to showing what I learned I couldn’t do it because I was told I was stupid and I would never amount to anything. So it affects me, in answer to your question about how it affects me now.
And my kids. It shows on my kids. And it shows —
They are drug addicts and alcoholics. My baby was an alcoholic. He started drinking when he was twelve years old. And in a year I was, too, screwing up my own life, screwing up my children’s lives. People tell me, “Don’t blame yourself for your baby hanging himself and taking his own life.” Don’t tell me not to blame myself.
— Speaker overcome with emotion
— End of Part 1
…he would still be alive today. So don’t dare anybody tell me not to blame myself because I do. It’s part my fault. I don’t take it all. I don’t take all the blame.
Q. Would you like to stop for a little bit?
A. No. That’s okay. My baby has been gone five years.
When I first heard about it, my baby, on the phone I thought my brain was trying to do the “what ifs”, the “I should haves”. I wouldn’t let it go there. I knew I was able to do it because a lot of people were praying for me. I was praying also to our Creator and to his mother because she went through that. Only her son didn’t kill himself.
And they helped me. They heard me. That’s why I’m still sitting here in my right mind telling this story. Actually, my baby’s death made me strong. The way I see it, if I’m still alive today his death made me strong. I don’t even know if I should try to explain the pain it is to lose a child, especially in that manner. But now, five years later, I understand why he took his own life. I tell God I understand why he didn’t intervene and I also understand he’s a very forgiving God, not like I was taught in the boarding school: You’ll go to hell if you do this, if you say that, if you look that way. They were a bunch of bull shitters. I didn’t believe them any more.
They taught me exactly different things to the way I live now, at least I try. I have my downfalls. I’m still a very dysfunctional person. I’ve been through many addictions. I’ve licked two of them but I’m not even trying to lick this one I have now. I have many addictions. I like smoking. I like playing VLTs. But pretty soon I’ve got to do something about playing VLTs because it makes me broke and that’s not right and it doesn’t make me feel good. Why do I keep doing things that make me feel awful?
Q. I wanted to ask you about —
You say they called you down a lot and as a child you were told that you weren’t very good or you were a bad person. You talked about having addiction issues and things like this. And now you’re sitting here and I see a really strong woman who overcame a lot.
How do you get past that? How do you get to be here today after all that?
A. The first thing that came to my mind is my parents. My dad didn’t talk much. My mom did all the talking. They showed me by example. What they wanted me to do they showed me. They didn’t tell me. Just every once in a while I had to be reminded but mostly they showed me by example. They lived the way they wanted me to live. That’s how I learned.
You must have heard the Anashinabe learn when they see it rather than hear it?
Q. Um-hmm.
A. Well, that’s exactly what they did. That’s how they brought me up. Heck, I want to swear!
They come and take me from there. I was okay where I was. But they built schools. I think they tried to copy Hitler, you know. It’s a good thing somebody had a little bit of humanity in them, not to be like Hitler. He hated the Jews so he killed lots of them; millions.
There would not be an Anashinabe left if he did that to us. I would like to know who that White man or Frenchman or Englishman that had a little bit of humanity to stop something like that. I betcha it looked like that’s what they were trying to do to us, get rid of us.
But they were too slow. I’m glad Anashinabe likes muzshuway (ph.). They couldn’t catch up. Do you know what muzshuway (ph.) is? Making children, to put it mildly. We multiplied too fast.
Q. I just saw in a documentary a woman saying that Indian people having babies is a political act. I think that’s exactly what you just said.
So it’s the strength that you learned from your parents that has carried you through to today?
A. Yeah. That’s what it is. Yes.
Q. That’s good.
A. And most recently, five years ago, that made me stronger. I seem to be getting stronger instead of weaker in some areas. I thought if I lived through my baby’s death, I’ll live through anything. I lived through torture, (speaking native language), condemnation —
Q. Can you talk to us a bit about your healing journey?
A. When I took that focusing therapy eventually I learned how to do it on yourself because your body remembers, even if you forget up here (indicating), or it didn’t register at the time so it can’t be a memory when it doesn’t register.
Q. It wouldn’t register because it’s such a horrible thing?
A. Yeah. Exactly. When it happens at that moment when it happened to me, you have this protection. You block it off. You wipe it off so it doesn’t enter your memory and it doesn’t hurt as much. You live through it. You don’t go crazy.
Ask me that question again.
Q. Can you talk to us about your healing journey and what you’ve done or what you think has been helpful?
A. Oh yeah. I was going to give you an example.
When I was married to —
I only had three children. My baby is gone. I have Geraldine and I have Terrance, another son. He’s younger than her. When I still lived with their dad on a different Reserve at Little Black River he was an asshole. Anyways, I used to be washing dishes and he would come up behind me and touch my bum. Each time he did that, like he did that several times to me —
I lived with him for five or six years; I was married to him. He’s lucky I wasn’t wiping or washing a sharp knife because my body would instantly react. The first time he did that to me, come behind me, sneak behind me and touch my bum I turned around and my hands were still wet. I gave him a big slap. Of course he slapped me back, without question. Where does that come from? How come I did that?
Even in a crowded place with chairs like that, with the arms, I would get up and happen to bump myself on my bum, oh, the message that was coming was awful from my body. That’s why your body has a lot to tell you if you investigate. So I did. When I started taking that focusing course I found out where that came from, from that Brother Lacoste (ph.). He used to touch my bum every chance he had, and not just me.
The first few times because I wanted the candy, I was a kid and I liked candy, and then I don’t know —
I’d say yeah and sit on his lap and he would check to see where the Nun was or if her back was turned. He wouldn’t give up the candy until he did what he wanted to do. After, when you’re just a kid, you don’t know and you know this is not right, this doesn’t feel right. I grabbed the candy and just ran. Every time he showed up you would see the little girls just scattering and running, running away.
We were so vulnerable and innocent. I never once blamed my mom and dad. They had to. They had to take us there or else rations, it was called then.
Q. Welfare?
A. Yeah. It was called rations, that’s Welfare today, Social Assistance. They would stop that and whatever else the government threw at us to survive.
Q. Can I ask you a little bit about Father Lacombe (ph.) that you were talking about here.
A. Brother Lacoste?
Q. So he had candy with him all the time?
A. In his pockets, yeah. They had big huge pockets in those big long robes, it looked like. Yeah, it was a robe.
Q. The Priest and the Nuns weren’t affectionate or nice to the students and when he walked in a room girls would run away, and so —
A. I don’t know his excuse to come in there.
Q. So it seems like other Nuns and other Priests must have known what was going on, they must have had an idea why this guy carried candy with him and girls ran away from him all the time?
A. Yeah. They just closed their eyes to it. I remember one time sitting on his lap and he’s doing that and I’m looking, “oh please, turn around”, you know, for that Nun to turn around. But she was always busy somewhere else. He was smart. Perverts are smart. They must have, unless they were blind. Well, some Priests were doing it too.
When we had ideas later on —
There was a little girls’ room for the little girls and then big girls, it depends what age you were.
When I was a little girl and we were in this Dormitory they were called, it had windows galore. My Reserve is North Shore and South Shore. I lived on the North Shore. The boarding school was almost directly across from where I lived. I tried to sneak to the window so I can see my house. It looked so near but it was far. I could see my house from those bedroom windows, the Dormitory windows.
You know, I don’t even remember if I talked about it with other kids there. I think I was too scared and everybody else was too scared.
Q. Is there more we can talk about for your healing journey and anything else you might have done?
A. Well, it doesn’t affect me any more. Well, it does that much like about my bum, if I happen to bump it somewhere, or —
Because I know where it comes from.
Q. Now that you understand that does it make it easier to handle?
A. Yeah, much easier. I don’t know.
If you knew Anashinabe, if you lived with them there, they’ve got a sense of humour. There’s lots and lots of laughing.
I was thinking about —
You know when kids fool around or even adults, some adults, they poke each other’s arses and then they laugh. That used to bother me. Don’t you dare touch me!
There’s lots of other —
If we did something wrong there was an attic, there was a basement, there was the Play Room, where the Play Room was and the next floor was where we ate, the kitchen. And we had to eat everything, even if they burnt our toast, we had to eat that. They said we would have a good voice, and I believed them. I always wanted a good voice to sing in the choir. So we had to eat burnt toast, porridge and peanut butter.
On Sunday mornings before we go to church we would smell breakfast bacon. Oh, that used to smell so good. But it wasn’t even for us. It was for the enemy. It was for the guards! It was for the Nuns. It was for the Brothers. It was for the Priests. (speaking native language)
Do you know what “anemaykway” means? Do you really want me to translate? Praying woman. That’s what that means. That’s what the Nuns were called. (speaking native language) That’s the Priest dressed in black.
There was one Priest I liked. He was an old man. He was tall. What the heck was his name? Father Way (ph.). That’s one kind Priest I seen there, the only one. I don’t remember a Nun, seeing a Nun with a kind face. He was handsome, too. I’m not afraid to tell anybody they’re handsome or good looking. I seem to be saying that a lot today, eh. (Laughter) That’s one of the reasons I found him kind looking. But he was. He smiled at us. I found a little bit of love. I found a little bit of caring coming from that figure, because to me they were figures and he was tall.
Even in the Dormitories when I got to the big girls’ side, as they called it, there was a lot of touching going on there, too. I’m thinking that’s probably from Brother Lacoste’s teaching. There were lots of girls that touched each other in there, too. They would move their beds closer at night. On the small girls’ side we were made to sleep like this (indicating) all the time, like that. Our hands could never go under the blankets because they were afraid we might touch ourselves, I guess.
Q. So if you were sleeping and your hands went below the blankets somebody would —
A. Yeah, tell you to sleep like that and then we all got used to it anyways, I guess.
Q. Wow. Do you still sleep like that?
A. Heck, no. I put my hands wherever I want. (Laughter) if I want to put them there, I will. Do you want to hear any more? (Laughter)
It’s like retaliation, eh, sometimes. But that’s how I became —
Don’t come near me. I had a lot of anger, a lot of hidden anger. It took my “geet” (ph.) to tell you about Brother Lacoste. “Geet” means bum.
I thank my body for that because how would you like to go around being angry about —
For instance, like me and wonder who the heck, you know, and I’m glad I went, I was meant to go through all that training. I started training and going to school when she (indicating) was just a little girl, three years old. So I’ve been there lots. But I didn’t become famous. I don’t have a big title behind me but I’ve got life experience. I’m sixty years old. I don’t need those papers to tell me what I can do. It’s caring.
Sometimes a lot of times I fall off. I want to follow in our Creator’s steps, footsteps, the way he lived when he was here because he says we’re the salt and the light. He didn’t you could be the salt and the light, like me. No. He says you are the salt and the light and that you are. That’s what I’m starting to believe. That’s why I keep saying —
That’s why I’m trying to bring up three grandchildren. They’re fourteen pretty soon, sixteen and seventeen. That’s a big generation gap but I always tell them I’m old-fashioned and I don’t like their music. I always tell my grandson —
Well, I’m not going to tell you what I tell him. I’ll put it a different way. I always tell him I don’t like your black music. But I don’t say black. I use the old-fashioned word. But I don’t want to say it here. Some people might take offence.
Q. So is there something you want to share that we haven’t talked about yet?
A. When I was crying what I wanted to say was I could have been not I should have been, I could have been a better parent. I guess my mom and dad’s teachings were weaker than what they did to me in school. They took away the person I could have been. I just realized that in one of my sessions with Mel and Shirley. Holy mackerel, imagine the kind of person I would have been if I didn’t go to boarding school?
I could still be with the years I have left and who knows, maybe I’ve been already. It feels like it sometimes. Sometimes it feels like I have rewards when I see my grandchildren.
You know what, sometimes it skips my mind.
Can I get up for a second? I want to get something in my pocket.
— End of Part 2
…the people in there. It’s just the way I feel.
I’m talking about the Residential School. That’s why I wrote it this way. When the thought came to my mind I wrote it down right away because I forget. It took away the person I would have been today. It took away the person I would have been today. And then that realization again. Imagine what kind of person I could have been? Imagine the kind of person I could have been right now; no addictions, no dysfunction. I would have been the Anashinabe Creator meant for me to be.
But then I’ve got to come out of there and say I could still be. I’m only sixty years old. I’m not out to make an impression. I’m just old-fashioned. That’s what I always tell my grandchildren. Why don’t you get this? Why don’t you get that? You know, all the modern technology.
At work I have a computer. I don’t bother with it. I don’t like it. I hate it. I could never learn. I know how to find the cards, to play cards; that’s it.
Q. Do you mean to play solitaire?
A. Yeah. I learned that from my grandchildren. They have a computer that’s old. They want Internet and all that stuff. But I keep away from that. It’s scary. You see, I’m really old-fashioned. Where did I learn that?—My parents. But they’re not even my biological parents. My mom put me there when I was a baby, my biological mom, because she couldn’t keep me. She’s from Oser River. My dad was —
Three times already I thanked her before —
What do you call that? She’s eighty years old. Alzheimer’s. She’s starting to get that. Before she started getting that I thanked her at least three times for placing me where she did. I was just a small baby. That’s the only mom and dad I knew.
Q. Do you have anything else you would like to say?
A. The money I got, the $10,300, I figure I was in there more years than what they gave me but that’s okay. I’m too tired to prove to them I was there longer. I don’t want to bother with that. It took off a little stress for a while. That’s what money does. It makes you happy for a while. It took away a little stress from me. I had these bills for years and years and years. People were starting, you know, bill collectors are phoning me and threatening me. They don’t bother me any more because I paid those bills. That’s why I was thankful for that money.
I shared it with my children and grandchildren. That’s it. It doesn’t last long.
But I still have to go to court for a Hearing. I just hope they don’t ask me questions like what was their names. You know, they shouldn’t come up with surprises. They’re going to have to accept and believe me when I tell my story. My friend went already for a hearing. She’s the same age as me. She says that they didn’t even ask me the questions I thought they would. It seems like they don’t believe you. She said that she started naming —
Because she’s got a better memory than I do.
— naming most of the Nuns that were there, the Priests and the Brothers. She knew them. And they stopped her. They stopped her and they asked her something else. “They talked about something else unexpected but it’s just like they were trying to trap me”, she said.
Jesus, I wonder if I’ll ever make it to the Hearing. Some people go there and freak out. I guess that’s the ones they believe.
I don’t know. I was really nervous coming here. And then I’m thinking, holy mackerel, when I go to my Hearing how am I going to be because honestly when I worried before I came here I started feeling anxious. I’m starting a headache. My stomach was getting upset. When I walked in here and seen all these people I was nervous.
Imagine, my mind will just go blank in that Hearing. I don’t want that to happen.
I wonder if I could take the tape you’re going to give me, the copy?
Q. It takes a while to transfer it.
A. I know. But my Hearing is taking so long. God knows when it’s going to be. It’s supposed to be this month. This month is almost gone. I mean, can I take that to my Hearing and play it?
Q. I don’t know. I don’t know what they allow there. I’m not sure.
A. Anyways, there’s a lot more. I keep pushing away.
Q. Is it my breath?
A. No. (Laughter) But it’s a longer story. I would be here all day if I told you everything.
Have you got any more questions?
Q. No. I think you have answered all my questions.
A. Yeah? Okay. What do I do after I get out of here? Go get drunk?
Q. No.
A. I don’t drink. (Laughter)
Q. I can’t say don’t.
A. I’ll go play slots. That calms me down; my addiction.
Q. Well, there’s counselors here. There are people you can talk to. Our interview is done but that doesn’t mean you need to leave the building right away. You can do what you want to do.
A. Have some sleep?
Q. Yeah. I think you just did something that’s pretty hard so I think you know how to make yourself feel better after something like this, so you do what you’ve gotta do.
Thanks a lot. That was amazing. It took a lot of strength.
A. I can’t say it was my pleasure because it wasn’t.
— End of Interview