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Elijah spent the next 10 years in residential school. The teachers cut his hair. They told him that the things he had learned from his grandfather were the ways of the heathens, or godless people. He was punished if he tried to speak his own language. During that time, many of his classmates tried to run away. But they were always caught and brought back.
I am very tired here, I want to go home!
By the time Elijah became an adult, the laws keeping First Nations people out of government had changed. Elijah had an idea. If he was in government, he could help First Nations people stand up for their rights. So, in 1981, he ran to be an MLA, or member of the government. He won! He was the first Aboriginal MLA in the history of Manitoba.
Finally, everything is different now
Even as an MLA, it was hard to make change. The students who went to the residential schools didn’t know about their culture anymore. They didn’t feel like they belonged anywhere. They also had to deal with a lot of racism. Elijah was starting to feel powerless. But his chance to make a difference was just around the corner.
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