An honest look at life in an Indian residential school in the 1950s, and how one indomitable young spirit survived it — 30th anniversary edition.

Seepeetza loves living on Joyaska Ranch with her family. But when she is six years old, she is driven to the town of Kalamak, in the interior of British Columbia. Seepeetza will spend the next several years of her life at an Indian residential school. The nuns call her Martha and cut her hair. Worst of all, she is forbidden to “talk Indian,” even with her sisters and cousins.

Still, Seepeetza looks for bright spots — the cookie she receives at Halloween, the dance practices. Most of all, there are her memories of holidays back at the ranch — camping trips, horseback riding, picking berries and cleaning fish with her mother, aunt and grandmother. Always, thoughts of home make school life bearable.

Based on her own experiences at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, this powerful novel by Nlaka’pamux author Shirley Sterling is a moving account of one of the most blatant expressions of racism in the history of Canada. 

Includes a new afterword by acclaimed Cree author Tomson Highway of the Barren Lands First Nation in northern Manitoba.


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Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.


My Name is Seepeetza is an excellent book … as an introduction to, or indeed, to learn more about the Indian residential schools and those courageous students who attended them. My Name is Seepeetza is as valid a book today as it was when it was first published, and it is well worth in-depth study.

- Miramichi Reader

Sterling's experiences as a residential school student and her courageous spirit shine through in this autobiographical novel.

- CM: Canadian Review of Materials

Sterling's writing is simple yet powerful … Even more, her words act as a catalyst for deep reflection and necessary conversation about Canada's dark past regarding the residential school system.

- Cloud Lake Literary