Written by Shirley Stirling
Published in 1992 by Groundwood Books
Seepeetza is 12 years old in 1958 and has decided to keep a secret journal about her life. It has to be a secret because Seepeetza is a student at the Kalamak Indian Residential School in Kalamak, BC. She has been a boarder at the school, 100 miles from her family and home, since she was six. The journal entries span a year and introduce readers to life for First Nation children forced to attend residential schools in Canada. My Name is Seepeetza is based on author Shirley Sterling’s own experiences.
At the school, students were forbidden to use their names or speak their language. She is beaten and strapped by her teacher, Sister Theo, and when she wets the bed because she is too afraid to leave get up in the night, Sister Theo humiliates her by forcing her to wear the wet sheet on her head. Martha and her schoolmates are deprived of food and sometimes eat toothpaste at night because they are so hungry.
Through Martha’s journal entries, readers witness a young girl, far away from her family, coping with the atrocities of her life at school. Many of the entries include her reflections on her life at home and this contrast between home and school is at times heartbreaking. Written for readers ages 9-12, My Name is Seepeetza touches on themes of abuse, death, bullying, and the legacy of residential schools as it effects multiple generations within families.
Introducing the Author:
Read Shirley Sterling’s author bio.
Learning More About the Book:
Read this book review to learn more about My Name is Seepeetza.
Developing Background Knowledge:
Educators who would like to know more about residential schools in Canada can start with these sources: