Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'What happened to me...'

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The following are two excerpts from a 12-page letter written by Shawn Lamb to Free Press columnist Colleen Simard on June 10, 2008, but faxed to her care of the newspaper on June 13, 2008. The excerpts have not been edited and are presented as they were written.

Hello my name is Shawn. I read your articles whenever its in the paper, a recent one about your familys experiences what you say, and with tomorrow the day of the governments apology on the ressidential school disaster. I wrote about what happened to me, as I was a part of the '60s scoop thanks to childrens aid.

I left out the broken ankle, thrown through walls by white step father at age 11, the 3 other trips to the town hospital to get stitches from other beatings from age 7 to 12 and another trip for the broken nose and the leather barber's belt with its metal buckles that I was whipped with and also needed stitches for and all this from age 7 to 12 and all the lies I had to tell at the hospital.

I was labeled accident prone, it was pretty bad, they'd burn my hands on the stove. I'd stand in a corner for hours locked in the bedroom for days, either not fed, or forced to eat till I threw up.

I can remember as far back as age 5 dealing with this abuse, I just couldn't process it being a kid. I'd run away all the time yet I had nowhere to go and once it got dark, well, I'd go back.

I do recall an elderly widow Mrs. Black who's snow I'd shovel and grass I'd cut, she knew some of what was being done to me as she caught me hiding in her shed many times wich she allowed me to do, perhaps if she'd been younger she may have spoken out, yet I'll never forget her.

The sexual abuse (rape) started when I was in grade 3, I failed grade 3 that year, I now know back then child abuse, just like homo sexuality were no no topics better left in the closet.

I finally ran away for good at age 14 thats when I said no more if you hit me I'm hitting back. He grabbed an axe and tried to hit me I ran out the door with the clothes on my back I lived on the streets in toronto and Orillia stealing to eat always running, I was a mess.

I found alcohol, pills blackouts were a welcome escape, I found heroin. At age 16 I found prison, men's prison as back then at age 16 you were considered an adult, I must of looked about 12 or 13, I was a scared skinny little boy I'd shut down emotionally at about age 7 I'm talking emotional growth.

Then when the sexual abuse started my mind couldn't cope, here it is the only physical comfort I was getting yet it was disgusting, I tuned out reality. I was being sexually abused by 3 people and two of them lived in the house I did, the other one was a step uncle who lived down the street.

I am healing and forgiving and as I said in my letter I've learned I'm Indian a status objibway - Chippawa from Aamjiwnaang 1st nations reserve in Sarnia Ont. That is where my real mother is burried the home of my 2 sisters and brother I am as much of a shock to them as learning of them and my native heritage was to me.

-- -- --

In no way do I justify my crimes becaue of my abuses, all crime is wrong I pray for forgiveness and I pray for all who I've hurt what I did was my fault I can say my life may have been very different had I'd grown up within my true culture and been taught respect for others for myself and our mother the earth and all it gives life to thats the ojibway beliefs.

I realize there are many what ifs and woulda coulds and so on, yet what I have wrote are facts and truths. this can not be denied nor ignored or seperated at the whim of some else's opinions, it is, was all a part of me and a contributing factor in my life and lifestyle. Right now I am so close in achieving permanent positive change.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 1, 2012 J6

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