alumni UBC Book Club – They called me number one by Bev Sellars

They called me number oneXat’sull Chief Bev Sellars spent her childhood in a church-run residential school whose aim it was to “civilize” Native children through Christian teachings, forced separation from family and culture, and discipline. In addition, beginning at the age of five, Sellars was isolated for two years at Coqualeetza Indian Turberculosis Hospital in Sardis, British Columbia, nearly six hours’ drive from home. The trauma of these experiences has reverberated throughout her life.

The first full-length memoir to be published out of St. Joseph’s Mission at Williams Lake, BC, Sellars tells of three generations of women who attended the school, interweaving the personal histories of her grandmother and her mother with her own. She tells of hunger, forced labour, and physical beatings, often with a leather strap, and also of the demand for conformity in a culturally alien institution where children were confined and denigrated for failure to be White and Roman Catholic.

Like Native children forced by law to attend schools across Canada and the United States, Sellars and other students of St. Joseph’s Mission were allowed home only for two months in the summer and for two weeks at Christmas. The rest of the year they lived, worked, and studied at the school. St. Joseph’s mission is the site of the controversial and well-publicized sex-related offences of Bishop Hubert O’Connor, which took place during Sellars’s student days, between 1962 and 1967, when O’Connor was the school principal. After the school’s closure, those who had been forced to attend came from surrounding reserves and smashed windows, tore doors and cabinets from the wall, and broke anything that could be broken. Overnight their anger turned a site of shameful memory into a pile of rubble.

In this frank and poignant memoir, Sellars breaks her silence about the institution’s lasting effects, and eloquently articulates her own path to healing.

Event Details

Meet and Greet:
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
7:00 – 8:00 pm

Book Discussion:
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
7:00 – 9:00 pm

Cecil Green Park House – Map (
University of British Columbia
6251 Cecil Green Park Road
Vancouver, B.C.

$10 per person.  Light refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP online before Friday, February 25th, 2014. For more information, please contact Karolin Konig at 604-822-8939 or at

Please Note: Books will not be provided so please make arrangements to obtain a copy to read before the Book Discussion.  Books are available at the UBC Book Store (

Sign up for your ACard and benefit from a 12% discount at the UBC Book Store. For more information on obtaining an ACard please visit (

Parking: There is a limited amount of meter parking in the lot on Cecil Green Park Road, the closest parkade is the Rose Garden Parkade (for entry after 5:00 pm and on weekends, a flat rate of $6.00 applies).

Searching for Resources at UBC Library

With a rich and vast collection, UBC Library encompasses a number of books, videos, and other relevant resources on classical and ancient Greece.  The easiest way to find this material is to use the UBC Library Catalogue (   One recommended search strategy is to use Subject search option.   From the catalogue option, select Subject from the drop-down menu, and enter any of the following headings:

Shuswap Indians–Biography.
Indians of North America–British Columbia–Kamloops–Residential schools.
Shuswap Indians–Education–British Columbia–Kamloops.

By Bev Sellars at UBC Library

They called me number one : secrets and survival at an Indian residential school / Bev Sellars (2008).  Winnipeg, Scirrocco.  [Available at Koerner Library – E99.S45 S45 2013]

Scholarly Resources at UBC Library

Behind closed doors: stories from the Kamloops Indian Residential School edited by Agnes Jack.  (2006). Penticton: Theytus Books.  [Koerner Library – E96.6.K34 J32 2006]

Brotherhood to nationhood: George Manuel and the making of the modern Indian movement by Peter MacFarlane.  [Available at Koerner Library – E92 .M35 1993]

Research Guides



Open Access Learning Resources