Class of 1992

Jason Yew attended the Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School for his final year of high school and it was a choice he made for himself. He always knew residential schools existed because he grew up near one on Muskowekwan. When he attended QIRS he was known by his adopted name Jason Haviland.

Reason for going

Jason was part of the Sixties Scoop and was adopted at an infant. That experience with his adopted family was not ideal. Jason recalled feelings of isolation and loneliness living with his adopted family, particularly after they moved from Muskowekwan to Regina, and then to Edmonton. When he was 16 and about to enter his final year at a large public high school in Edmonton, he applied to QIRS instead. He knew the school existed and chose it specifically for its athletic teams. 

Impact of the school

Jason has never regretted his decision to leave his adopted family when he did. While at school, he felt a sense of freedom although he never left the school even on holidays. While there, Jason took full advantage of everything the school had to offer from academics to athletics.

He played every sport because it helped break up the monotony of residential life. Jason not only excelled at sports but also in academics and became a peer tutor. He had spent many years in an unhappy home so it was a relief to just enjoy being a teenager and be around people who liked him.

Jason adapted easily to the regimented schedule because he was accustomed to taking care of his things and personal belongings. The required chores were also not a big deal to him, but like most students some chores were worse than others but nothing was excessive.

He stayed at the school all year round because his adopted family lived in Alberta. He was not allowed to leave the school on weekends because his adopted parents did not sign the paperwork that would allow him to leave with friends or relatives.

Jason admitted weekends at the school were boring, but he learned to entertain himself by exploring the Village of Lebret. He said being at the school even on the worst days was better than being in a place where he was mistreated.

Jason filled his extra time by participating in sports and earned a letter-man sweater. Although he as only 17 when he graduated, he chose not to go home. Jason stayed in Regina where he enrolled in university.

He made lifelong friends at school and although he may not see any of his former classmates, when he does it’s always a good time. 

Final thoughts

Jason does not regret his decision to leave home because the school provided a safe supportive environment. He made his home in Regina and has never looked back. It’s been 20 years since he has spoken to his adopted family, but is happy with the life he has made for his own family. Jason said residential school provided a way out of his unhappy home while giving him the tools he needed to take the next step in life and towards complete freedom.