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Kids' Activities

Jane Lind presents ...

Sammy Goes to Residential School

Written by Mary Lingman
Illustrated by Susan Ross

Theme: Native Experience, Ages 7 to 10

Sammy Goes to Residential School

Sammy is a seven-year-old Cree boy who has to go to residential school away from his family and the reserve because his parents spend the year on the trapline until spring.

Sammy is unhappy about leaving his family, and the preparations are an ordeal—having his grandmother cut his hair short with a big scissors, and being scrubbed all over by his mother.

But worse things happened when he got to school. He had to get undressed in front of the supervisor and the other boys to have a shower and he was given a number, 122. As if that were not bad enough, he was not allowed to speak Cree, which made him worried. He didn't know much English, but the other boys promised to help him, and he felt better.

Sammy gets used to the routines of school that at first were so foreign to him and he enjoys learning many new things. In the spring when school is over, he learns that the residential school will be closed and next year there will be a school in his village. He will be able to live with his grandmother and his aunt while his parents are on the trapline the next year, and he can still go to school.

At the end of the book, the author includes a note about residential schools, which were closed in Ontario in 1976. The adverse effects of these schools on several generations is well-known, and this story touches lightly on some of these on one child.


1. Why did Sammy have to go to residential school?

2. How was school different from his life at home?

3. What did he like about school?

4. What did he not like?

5. Why did Sammy have to go to the residential school for only one year?


Choose your favourite part of the story and draw a picture to illustrate it.

from the
Theme Catalogue and Teaching Guide for Children's Books
written for Penumbra Press by Jane Lind
© Jane Lind

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