Tina Taphouse is pictured in Langley, B.C., Monday, June 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Tina Taphouse is pictured in Langley, B.C., Monday, June 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. woman says her mother put her up for adoption to avoid Kamloops residential school

Tina Taphouse said she’s sharing her family’s story so those who went to the schools don’t have to

Tina Taphouse has spent a lot of time lately reflecting on the impact the Kamloops Indian Residential School has had on her life’s path.

Taphouse didn’t go to the school because her mother, who worked there and had also grown up in residential school, made the impossible decision to put her up for adoption so she wouldn’t have to attend.

The former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., is where the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation used ground-penetrating radar to detect what are believed to be the remains of 215 children.

“When you have only the two choices — to give me up for adoption to a better home and not go to residential school, or to keep me and raise me and to know that I would end up going to residential school — that’s a decision a mother shouldn’t have to make,” Taphouse said in an interview from her home in Langley, B.C.

“I’m not mad at her. I admire her strength and her decision.”

Taphouse said she’s sharing her family’s story so that her mother and other family members who went to the schools don’t have to. Canada has a long way to go in addressing violence against Indigenous Peoples and it’s important for people to understand the realities of what happened, she said.

Her mother is aware she is speaking with the media but did not want to be interviewed, she said.

Taphouse, who is Interior Salish from the St’at’imc community, was raised by non-Indigenous parents and now works as a photographer. She had a good upbringing, she said, but also understands the experience of the ’60s Scoop when the federal government attempted to assimilate Indigenous children by placing them with non-Indigenous families.

“It was only in the last few months that I admitted to myself they (assimilation policies) were successful in me, that I often feel like I’m in the middle because I grew up in a non-Indigenous world,” she said.

While she escaped the horrors that many survivors of the ’60s Scoop and residential schools endured, Taphouse said she also wasn’t brought up in her culture, with her family or her traditions and she felt lost.

She began reconnecting with her roots after her biological father reached out to her through an adoption reunification registry in 1994. Over time, she has learned more about her own family and story, although she said she doesn’t push her mother to share sensitive details.

On Friday, she learned that her mother was referred to only by a number, 123, instead of a name when she was a child at St. Joseph’s Mission outside of Williams Lake, B.C.

She knows her mother attended residential school until Grade 11 and then began working at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in 1964. She became pregnant with Taphouse three years later.

Taphouse has never asked how her mother ended up working at the residential school or about what happened there.

“I know it had to be horrific for her to shield me from it,” she said.

Taphouse said she has taken strength from reconnecting with her Indigenous family, many of whom attended residential school. It’s a family that helps one another in hard times and bands together to help out, she said.

“This community, my family, they’ve really opened up my eyes about giving and caring for others, not just for themselves,” she said.

Among the most moving has been the way her family deals with death and connects with ancestors, she said.

“I feel it more every day, I feel them with me and beside me,” she said.

“They give me the strength to talk and tell the world what we’ve known about for years, decades, generations. And to be a voice for those who can’t talk right now, who are still hurting, who are still struggling.”

— By Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Most Canadians say church to blame for residential-school tragedies: poll

RELATED: Indigenous leaders frustrated after Pope passes on apologizing for residential schools

Indigenousresidential schools

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Author John Vaillant joins Lisa Moore and Fred Wah for Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s Alumni Reading on Friday, July 9. All three authors were featured at the inaugural festival in 2012. Photo: Submitted
FESTIVAL TALES: When 2012 meets 2021

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival will include authors from the event’s inaugural year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

Most Read