Tomson mom went into labor on a dog


Tomson Highway was an aboriginal Canadian
playwright, novelist and children’s author. Born on December 6 1951 on a snow
bank on the border of Manitoba and Nunavut. He is the son of a legendary
caribou hunter and championship dogsled racer, Joe highway. His mom went into
labor on a dog sled so he almost was born on the sled. At the age of 6 he was
taken away from his family and placed in a residential school which he was in
until he was 15. Residential schools were boarding schools for indigenous children
and were run by the government. The reason for residential schools was they
didn’t want the indigenous children under the influence of their own culture,
so they were taken away from their families from a young age (usually around
the age of 4) then they had to stay in them until their mid teen years (usually
around the age of 16.) Taking them away from their families at a young age meant
they wouldn’t remember their own culture and would only know the dominant Canadian
culture. The students at residential schools were harmed because they were so
far away from their families and didn’t have their original language so this exposed
them to sexual and physical abuse. Tomsons  original language was Cree but he was forced
to study English and French because those are Canada’s official languages. The
first residential school opened in the 1840s and the last residential school
run by the government was closed in 1996. In 2008 current prime minister
Stephan Harper apologized to all indigenous people on behalf of the government.
At the residential school Tomson went through some of sexual abuse from the
priests who ran the school. He spoke of “the joy” of attending the Guy Hill residential
school, “I learned you language for god’s sake. Have you learned mine, No so
whose privileged and whose under privileged.” The loss of language, culture and
the legacy of abuse still haunts the indigenous today. Despite all that we have
to remember the indigenous are still very successful people. He graduated from
the residential school at 15 years old from there he met James Reaney when he
went to university in western Ontario. For the next few years he traveled
around the country working for many aboriginal organizations as a social
worker. He learned about many aboriginal problems. At age 30 he felt that
theatre had many traditions similar to aboriginal culture so he decided to express
what he had seen through theatre. His plays The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta
Move to Kapuskasing were both part of an unfinished series which was supposed
to include 7 plays. Tomson calls this series his Rez Septology.  Dry lips Oughta move to Kapuskasing was
originally titled The Rez Brothers. Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing was the
first Canadian play to get a full production at Torontos royal Alexandra
theatre. Tomson soon got very frustrated with play productions and their
difficulties so he decided to focus more on his novels.

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