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

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

Shanna Ramm of Mosaic is the first person to graduate with a Bachelor of Disability Management from Pacific Coast University-Workplace Health Sciences. Her convocation took place virtually on Dec. 1, 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
PROGRESS 2021: Pacific Coast University celebrates with milestones

Alberni institution earns $6M return-to-work grant from province

The front entrance of West Coast General Hospital features a roundabout and a garden. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: West Coast General Hospital sees changing of the guard

New doctors are establishing practices in Port Alberni

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Most Read