Book Review: They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars


Reviewed by: Aimee
Genre: Biography
Format: Paperback
Page count: 227 Pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
In stock: Yes

“I am ashamed to admit that I knew little or nothing about Canada’s Brown Holocaust.”

– Chief Bill Wilson

Recently I joined a book club, and They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars was the first book we tackled. Although I wish no one had to experience what Bev did, I am so appreciative that I had an opportunity to read Bev Sellars’ memoir about her life in residential school as well as the effects it had on her afterwards.

Expectedly, the memories and experiences she shares bring to light the horrors of Canadian residential schools. It interweaves the time her Gram , her mother, and finally Bev herself all attended the same school, St. Joseph’s Mission, south of William’s Lake. Bev also includes many memories from her life at home both before and after the mission, allowing the reader a greater insight into the trauma residential schools had on all of her extended family.

Bev’s story, although not eloquent, is powerfully written. I would recommend it to anyone who desires to learn just a little more about Canada’s dark past from the perspective of someone whose entire life was affected by it.

In the last paragraph of her book, Bev claims outright victory over what has happened to her and her fellow Aboriginal people, ending her story with pride and hope. Spoiler alert if you don’t like reading the last few lines of a book…

“Someone said that I am a survivor but I believe I am much more that that. I prefer to claim outright victory in this war against the residential-school experience. Even though I sometimes barely survived, I didn’t become one of the terrible statistics of Aboriginal people. In the end, I win! Residential school did not manage to beat the Indian out of me and my Aboriginal pride just keeps getting stronger. I look around and I see many more like me. It makes my heart swell and it makes me hopeful for the future of our Aboriginal nation. I win.”

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