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

There was high voter turnout for the first of three advance voting days for the Penticton city by-election.
Penticton city by-election general voting day is today, June 19

737 voters on June 9 in comparison to 2018 general election, which had 1,001 on first day

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 Penticton-area men charged with Kamloops brothers’ double homicide

Brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May in Naramata

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

JAK's Liquor Store in Penticton will be donating 10 per cent of its sales on Saturday, June 19, to the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank. (Photo from JAKS.com)
Stock up your liquor cabinet and support the Penticton food bank

Jak’s beer and wine store is donating a portion of sales to local food banks Saturday

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Most Read