The mother felt like her body stiffened whenever her daughter tried to hug her. The daughter thought her mother did not love her. As time passed, she got married and had a daughter. She did the same to her daughter. Her body stiffened without her knowing when her daughter tried to hug her. She cursed and hit her daughter. It was sad inheritance.
It is a story included in the play of native Canadian author Vera Manual “Honouring the Strength of Indian Women.” The mother’s behavior toward the daughter derived from a trauma that she experienced in an Indian boarding school. She was forcefully enrolled to the school like other 150,000 Indian children. It was more of a concentration camp than a school where children were forced to learn English, Christianity and Western culture to remove their “indianness” and adjust them into Europeans. They suffered through mental, physical and sexual violation and diseases. When they died, schools buried their body without handing over to their parents. The remains of more than 1,000 children discovered at the site of an Indian boarding school, currently the buzz of the world, are vivid proof of it.
The mother pushed her daughter away in the play because of the memory of violence. Violence used by priests, nuns and teachers drove her relationships with others into catastrophe. One of them was the relationship with her daughter. She did not know how to express love and pushed her daughter away. She cursed and hit her. She did so even though she loved her. When the daughter asked about the boarding school, the mother just aid it was a decent place.
The saddest scene in this tragic play is where the mother says “I love you” to her daughter and the daughter responds “No, you don’t.” The most beautiful scene is where the mother asks for forgiveness and says her body will not stiffen any more, and the daughter apologizes to her mother. Even though her life was ravaged by the boarding school founded by the country and religion, she and her daughter overcome it with love.