Residential Schools in Canada: Hockey

Residential schools tests the potential and weakens many people’s spirits during their lives by applying difficulties, trouble and misfortune, however, some people like Saul find ways to cope with their abuse and trauma and lead to channelling their emotions through a hobby like hockey. In the novel Indian Horse written by Richard Wagamese, the author communicates the message that residential schools (abuse and trauma) and hockey have a strong impact on Saul’s identity by forcing Saul to overcome multiple adversities in which once shattered his spirit and made him feel worthless.
The ideas of abuse at residential schools and the racism he faces while playing hockey demonstrates Saul’s constant struggle. Throughout the novel, Saul being exposed to many painful experiences that affect his identity significantly and leave him with an unimaginable outlook on life.
First of all, Saul’s experiences at St Jerome’s negatively impacted his identity. Saul endured abuse and trauma when being forcibly taught the ways of the white people, “The only test was our ability to survive” (Wagamese 79). He is rapidly thrown into an environment of extreme emotional and physical abuse by the nuns and priests, additionally as Saul describes, “When your innocence is stripped from you when your people are denigrated, when the family you came from is denounced and your tribal ways and rituals pronounced backward, primitive, savage .

That is hell on Earth, that sense of unworthiness” (Wagamese 81). The quote represents how they are stripped of everything they have ever known, such as language, rituals, and traditions. On top of this, the constant abuse, suicides and sexual molestations shatters Saul’s spirit and creates a sense of life that is not worth living. (it’s 2 quotes per paragraph add more)
Secondly, Saul is forced to overcome many adversities while engaging in his passion for hockey and it allows him to escape his traumatizing experiences at St Jerome’s and take back what was stolen from him: his family, culture, traditions. Soon after Saul arrives at St Jerome’s, he discovers that his love for hockey serves as a mean of escape from reality, “I kept my discoveries to myself … I’d walk through the dim hallways of school warmed by my secret. I no longer felt hopeless … because I had Father Leboutillier, the ice, and the promise of a game” (Wagamese 66).
Throughout the quote, it demonstrates how hockey gives him a sense of hope, it is through hockey that Saul can escape from his traumatizing experiences. Additionally, Saul’s love for hockey allows him to gain freedom and escape what was now stolen from him due to his distasteful, and racist fans. The theory of “the white man’s game,” and the many setbacks Saul is facing from his fans weakens his spirit and builds up enough anger and hate that he can hardly contain.  He begins to channel his emotions by fighting with other players. (it’s 2 quotes per paragraph add more)
In conclusion, through the abuse within the residential school and the racism he faces while playing hockey, Richard Wagamese communicates how these difficulties shatters Saul’s spirit and impacts his identity and outlook on life. Saul is forced to face various types of problems and his fears which creates long-lasting effects on his life such as enduring abuse, trauma, and racism when being forcibly being the ways of the white people at a residential school, and facing harsh verbal and physical abuse while engaging in his passion for hockey. The novel, Indian Horse, written by Richard Wagamese illustrates that hockey is not only a sport, but it has the capacity to bind people together. No matter the race or ethnicity, it’s the love of the game that shows that we are not different.

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