They Called Me 33 by Karen Chaboyer – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Karen Chaboyer will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Karen longed for acceptance, validation and love, but had no ability to form healthy, meaningful relationships. Born into a large family already suffering the effects of two generations of residential school, and surviving her own nine years at St. Margaret Indian Residential School, Karen (like everyone she knew) had been systematically stripped of her dignity, identity, language, culture, family and community support systems.

Not wanting to be alone as an adult, Karen tolerated unhealthy relationships with family and partners. Still, she was coping. But after suffering further trauma, Karen turned to alcohol and other addictions to numb her pain.

Eventually, Karen found the strength to reach out for help. She learned to grieve through layers of shame and was finally able to embrace her identity. Karen also discovered what has long been known in her culture – the healing power of sharing your story. Karen would now like to share this book, her story, with you.

Enjoy an Excerpt

My Childhood

It was a hot sunny day; a soothing breeze was flowing off the lake through the open screened windows. My mother and I were both lying sideways across a double bed, next to the open window, enjoying the afternoon together. I was on my stomach, legs in the air, as my eyes followed a bee buzzing around outside the screen window. My mother was lying on her side, legs dangling off the bed. She was a hard-working woman, young in spirit, all the while loving her family. There was no rest, having twelve children to tend to, but that afternoon she was taking a break with me anyway. Out of the blue, I asked, “Mom, what was it like when you gave birth to me?” 

Mom looked out the window, reminiscing on the day she gave birth to me. Her face brightened as she began to tell her story. She said she went into labour the wee hours of the morning, and as the sun began to appear across the horizon, she prepared for her journey into town, packing a suitcase with her belongings and some baby clothes. My mother prayed that she would make it to the hospital on time. She had plenty of experience giving birth. 

Dad took the suitcase down to the boat. There, he carefully prepared our big ole fishing boat for the trip by making sure there was plenty of gas and by laying blankets on the floor of the boat, so Mom could lie down as she bore each contraction. As my mother wobbled down the hill toward my dad, he grabbed her hand and helped her into the boat. He made sure she was comfortable on the blankets before starting their journey. Like all dad’s, he was nervous. He remained silent and hoped they would make it into town on time. The two-hour ride seemed like eternity. 

The water was calm and serene and looked like a glass mirror. There was no breeze, and all you could hear was the motor putting slowly across the lake. Occasionally, my mother moaned in pain as she would breathe into each contraction. While gasping, Mom saw a stork flying across the lake as they approached our Couchiching First Nation reserve. Immediately, upon seeing the stork, Mom had suspicious thoughts that her baby might be taken away. She prayed that she would make it to the hospital safely and that I would be healthy. 

As my parents approached land, houses appeared on the lakeshore, and she knew that things would be fine. As Dad docked the boat, he climbed out of the boat and opened his hands to help Mom out of the boat. Once he had the boat docked and Mom was safely on land with her personal belongings, he ran to the nearest house to call a taxi. The trip to the hospital was only a ten-minute drive, but they had railway tracks to cross. If the tracks were blocked by a train it would prevent them from getting into town.

God answered their prayers, and everything turned out fine. Mom explained that I was a dry birth because her water broke several hours before I was born. Despite it all, Mom and Dad became proud parents once again. I was now the tenth child and second girl in the family. It was mandatory that we stayed in the hospital for the next ten days as my mother recuperated and regained her strength. When we checked out, I had a good bill of health.

About the Author:

Karen Chaboyer is an Ojibwa mother and grandmother from Rainy River First Nations, a community in northwestern Ontario. She is proudly admired by her children, who have witnessed her transformation as she worked through layers of shame and learned to embrace her identity. A second-generation survivor of residential school, Karen now shares her experiences with audiences throughout the Toronto area, where she now resides. Karen’s goal is to educate people on the extent to which the tragedies of the residential school system have impacted individuals, families, communities and entire cultures to this day.

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Buy the book at Amazon.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. James Robert says

    I encourage reading so having a family who loves to read I sure support.Thanks for sharing your terrific read with us.

  3. Sounds like a great read.

  4. Victoria Alexander says

    Thanks for sharing!

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