Roberta Hill – June 8, 2017

My sister Dawn Hill and Lillian Beaver were friends at the Mush Hole. I can’t remember the year the two of them decided to run away. I only remember being very afraid of being left alone there. Certainly there were many other children at the school but none were my sister. We were already at the Mush Hole for a few years and all our other brothers and sisters were placed either in foster care or like the oldest sister sent to reform school for daring to defend herself against “Skin”. So, this left Dawn and me.

I don’t remember who told me that Dawn and Lillian had run away but it put me into panic mode. I was so terrified of being left there by myself without a flesh and blood sister to lean on. Where my plan came from I don’t remember but I was going to find Dawn and bring her back. I never ever considered myself a runaway from the school but I guess I was breaking the rules by leaving the premises without permission or supervision. To this day I don’t remember who the other little girl was that assisted me in the rescue of my sister. Off we went down Birkett’s Lane and out to Erie Ave. I never knew the name of these streets then but I do remember the direction we took. We walked for a long, long, time. Eventually we came to a store or gas station that is located where Derris’s gas station is today. It was closed, but there was a telephone booth outside. Between the two of us little girls we used quite a bit of ingenuity. We had no money and I wasn’t familiar with a telephone. I can’t recall using a phone prior to this. We never had one in our home at Thomas’s corner but the neighbors had a phone. The smart little girl that was with me told me that in order to make a phone call we needed money or we could make our own coin. Well, wouldn’t you know, there was an empty cigarette pack lying on the ground. I flattened that foil and made it into a circle small enough to fit into the pay phone just like my friend told me to do. It worked and I connected somehow and got a hold of someone at the Mush Hole and I told them where we were and why we were away from the school. We never saw Dawn or Lillian so they were some pretty fast moving girls. Maybe they went a different route. As far as I know they ended up getting caught around 69 Corners.

I never meant any harm to my sister or Lillian I just didn’t want to be alone in the Mush Hole. Unfortunately, my sister did get a strapping from Rev. Zimmerman and I think Lillian would have suffered the same fate. I was under 10 yrs of age when I experienced this flight from the Mush Hole in order to rescue my older sister and she was only 1 year older than me. I did not receive any punishment but it wouldn’t have mattered because I had my sister back.

I am not sure how Dawn & Lillian returned to the school, it could have been the RCMP or Rev Zimmerman. I know that many forces were at work to ensure the return of children to the Residential Schools.”

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