Elder Betty Ross from Cross Lake First Nation has a story to tell. It may have taken her decades to tell her truth, but with the help of David A. Robertson, she has introduced the world to her resiliency and abuse at Canadian residential schools in the graphic novel, Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story. The hidden history of the Canadian Residential School System is shocking and needs to be talked about more than it has been in the past.
Betsy Ross was abandoned by her family at a young age. Betsy was eventually rescued and adopted by a loving family. Her world changed a few years later when, at the age of 8, she was taken away to a residential school against both her and her adopted family’s wishes. Her father made her promise to remember the strength of her relationships in order to survive. Those relationships would help light up any dark time she ran up against in the future.
When Betsy arrives at the school, she has no idea what to expect. She undergoes unspeakable abuses and indignities while at the school. She and other students are constantly berated and belittled by the priests and nuns. Her father’s words echo in her brain over and over filling her with hope, strength, determination, and resiliency she needs to survive this ordeal.
Betsy ended up changing her name to Betty in honor and remembrance of her friend, Helen Betty Osborne. Elder Betty Ross wrote this book with the help of David A. Robertson as a way to tell the truth about the residential schools.