Class of 1991

Owen Lavallee attended the Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School for almost his entire school life. He attended other residential schools as a child but said Lebret was the best.  He says residential school was one of the best times of his life. 

Reason for going

Owen attended the school with his two younger siblings and as a child it never seemed abnormal to him. His experience is unique because, unlike other students, Owen’s mother worked at the school.

Even as a child the school was not a scary place because his mom was there as were his two younger siblings. Over the years, his maternal aunts also worked at the school as supervisors. He was always surrounded by family while he attended. His attendance was optional and he did try public school once in elementary school and again in high school, but preferred life at Lebret. He graduated in 1991 with his sister Gina. 

Impact of the school

Owen said his entire experience was positive. He said it was great being surrounded by both friends and family throughout the school year. Owen said the best part of school was the extra curricular opportunities.

As a child he participated in boy scouts and cadets. In high school sports made available to him including track, volleyball and basketball. Owen said students had the opportunity to participate, but it wasn’t forced.

He admits things may have been easier for him because several family members worked at the school. Owen said unlike other students his mome knew immediately if he did anything wrong and he was disciplined accordingly, but it kept him in line.

He knew he was luckier than other students because when he needed something his mom was right there. Owen didn’t mind sharing his mother with other students and recalled many times over the years when his mom took students home for the holidays because they had nowhere to go. Owen said his mom wasn’t the only one who did.

Growing up in an institutional type setting was normal and he liked the regimented schedule because it was easy to follow. Although he may not have enjoyed chores, he can’t recall anything negative about his time there. He said the schedule made going to school easy.

He said the best part was the lifelong friendships and bonds he made with many of the students because they grew up together.

In his final year of high school he and another student trained to become supervisors, but it was a career he decided not to pursue. 

Final thoughts

Owen says he was fortunate to have attended QIRS because it was a good place to be. It wasn’t until many years later, he found out why he was in residential school and says it was the best thing she could have done for him because he likely would not have finished school otherwise. He says his time at Lebret is still one of the best times of his life.