Tina Taphouse is pictured in Langley, B.C., Monday, June 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Tina Taphouse is pictured in Langley, B.C., Monday, June 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. woman says her mother put her up for adoption to avoid Kamloops residential school

Tina Taphouse said she’s sharing her family’s story so those who went to the schools don’t have to

Tina Taphouse has spent a lot of time lately reflecting on the impact the Kamloops Indian Residential School has had on her life’s path.

Taphouse didn’t go to the school because her mother, who worked there and had also grown up in residential school, made the impossible decision to put her up for adoption so she wouldn’t have to attend.

The former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., is where the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation used ground-penetrating radar to detect what are believed to be the remains of 215 children.

“When you have only the two choices — to give me up for adoption to a better home and not go to residential school, or to keep me and raise me and to know that I would end up going to residential school — that’s a decision a mother shouldn’t have to make,” Taphouse said in an interview from her home in Langley, B.C.

“I’m not mad at her. I admire her strength and her decision.”

Taphouse said she’s sharing her family’s story so that her mother and other family members who went to the schools don’t have to. Canada has a long way to go in addressing violence against Indigenous Peoples and it’s important for people to understand the realities of what happened, she said.

Her mother is aware she is speaking with the media but did not want to be interviewed, she said.

Taphouse, who is Interior Salish from the St’at’imc community, was raised by non-Indigenous parents and now works as a photographer. She had a good upbringing, she said, but also understands the experience of the ’60s Scoop when the federal government attempted to assimilate Indigenous children by placing them with non-Indigenous families.

“It was only in the last few months that I admitted to myself they (assimilation policies) were successful in me, that I often feel like I’m in the middle because I grew up in a non-Indigenous world,” she said.

While she escaped the horrors that many survivors of the ’60s Scoop and residential schools endured, Taphouse said she also wasn’t brought up in her culture, with her family or her traditions and she felt lost.

She began reconnecting with her roots after her biological father reached out to her through an adoption reunification registry in 1994. Over time, she has learned more about her own family and story, although she said she doesn’t push her mother to share sensitive details.

On Friday, she learned that her mother was referred to only by a number, 123, instead of a name when she was a child at St. Joseph’s Mission outside of Williams Lake, B.C.

She knows her mother attended residential school until Grade 11 and then began working at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in 1964. She became pregnant with Taphouse three years later.

Taphouse has never asked how her mother ended up working at the residential school or about what happened there.

“I know it had to be horrific for her to shield me from it,” she said.

Taphouse said she has taken strength from reconnecting with her Indigenous family, many of whom attended residential school. It’s a family that helps one another in hard times and bands together to help out, she said.

“This community, my family, they’ve really opened up my eyes about giving and caring for others, not just for themselves,” she said.

Among the most moving has been the way her family deals with death and connects with ancestors, she said.

“I feel it more every day, I feel them with me and beside me,” she said.

“They give me the strength to talk and tell the world what we’ve known about for years, decades, generations. And to be a voice for those who can’t talk right now, who are still hurting, who are still struggling.”

— By Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Most Canadians say church to blame for residential-school tragedies: poll

RELATED: Indigenous leaders frustrated after Pope passes on apologizing for residential schools

Indigenousresidential schools

Just Posted

Some examples of ‘kindness’ rocks that were painted by members of the Boys and Girls Club in Rimbey. photo submitted
The ‘kindness rock snake’ continues to take shape in Rimbey

Residents are asked to contribute a ‘kindness rock’ to a project near the Blindman Youth Action Building

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Image/ Metro Creative Connection
Rimbey Municipal Library struggling to finish expansion amid construction cost boom

‘We found that the cost is at least $100,000 more than anticipated.’

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

The arrest south of Winnipeg occurred before Bernier was to arrive at a protest in the city. (Twitter/Maxime Bernier)
Maxime Bernier arrested following anti-rules rallies in Manitoba: RCMP

He’s been charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self-isolate

Most Read